A late-stage study of Pfizer s Prevnar 13 pneumonia vaccine has met the main trial goal, the company announced. The vaccine, which is already part of children s immunization schedules, has been shown to protect adults in the 18-to-49 age group against Streptococcus pneumoniae a bacterium that can cause pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. Prevnar 13 is widely recommended and used in a number of European countries, but still hasn t received endorsement from the Centers for Disease Control s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for use in adults over 50. (Such approval is generally required for coverage by insurance plans).This past March, ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom wrote an op-ed for the New York Post criticizing ACIP s refusal to recommend the vaccine for older adults. The decision, Dr. Bloom says, is a tactical equivalent to medical rationing, since including Prevnar 13 as part of the recommended schedule of vaccines for people older than 65 would automatically ensure coverage by Medicare.
Prevnar-13 has now been shown to be effective for individuals ages 18 to 49, as well as kids, says Dr. Bloom. This all but but guarantees that it will work in older adults. So, once again, I ask ACIP: Why is this highly effective vaccine not recommended for adults aged 50 and over? I cannot reach any other conclusion than that this is a misguided and short-sighted way to save money in other words, health care rationing at the expense of seniors.