Balancing the budget on the backs of seniors

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In a virtually unprecedented decision, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, failed to vote on recommending the use of Pfizer s new vaccine, Prevnar 13, for adults aged 50 and over. This is the third consecutive meeting about Prevnar 13, a vaccine used to prevent streptococcal pneumonia, with this outcome. This story was little-noticed, yet the ensuing delay could lead to many thousands of deaths, says ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom in an op-ed that appears in today s New York Post.

Each year, 300,000 people over 65 are hospitalized and 25,000 die from streptococcal pneumonia, indicating that a safe and effective vaccine is essential. And scientific research shows that the Prevnar vaccine is more effective than previous pneumococcal vaccine options. Yet according to Dr. Bloom, despite ACIP s claims that the decision was based on a desire to wait for further research results, this was really a question of cost: For ACIP to recommend the vaccine would force Medicare to pay for it, so holding off will save money in the short term. Unfortunately, this will come at the cost of human lives, observes Dr. Bloom: Every year that this vaccine is unavailable to Medicare recipients, he states, thousands of them will die unnecessarily.

For more on the Prevnar 13 situation, read the entire op-ed here.