A widely available vaccine is about 60% effective in preventing common kinds of pneumonia and should be more widely administered to the elderly and other susceptible people, a study has found. The researchers said their work "provides compelling evidence" of the value of the vaccine, which has been on the market since 1977.
Each year, about 2 million Americans catch pneumonia, and at least 40,000 of them die. It is the nation's most frequent lethal infection. Only about 20% of older Americans receive the vaccine, although the U.S. Public Health Service recommends that everyone over age 65 get it. The vaccine is also suggested for people with chronic heart, lung and kidney disease or weakened immune systems.
The lack of acceptance appears to stem, at least in part, from skepticism about whether the vaccine actually works. But the latest study--the largest of its kind--enrolled 2,108 adults, enough to show the vaccine protects people from disease.