And the widespread immunity to the disease that has resulted from vaccination of most children even appears to be protecting people who haven't had the shot, the researchers say. Fewer infections among kids means less exposure for teens and adults who haven't had the disease or the vaccine -- and who are most likely to need hospital treatment for symptoms and complications if they get the disease.
In a paper in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, a team from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital gives the first data ever to report a national decrease in chicken pox-related hospitalization occurring simultaneously with the rise in immunization rates for the disease.
"The results show an annual savings of $100 million since the varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine was introduced, just in the cost of hospital care for people with severe cases. That's greater than the savings predicted in the vaccine's pre-approval analysis," says lead author and U-M pediatrician Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P. "The hospital bill savings were considerable for Medicaid and private insurers, and ultimately for the taxpayers, employers and employees who pay for that coverage."
The savings don't include other chicken pox costs, such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies or lost work time for parents or adult patients -- all of which are also expected to be reduced as a result of the chicken pox vaccine.
But the yearly hospital cost savings alone are enough to pay for a large portion of the total cost of vacc
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System