Racial Disparities in Adult Pneumococcal Vaccination Indications and Pneumococcal Hospitalizations in the U.S.


There were similar proportions of immunocompromised (<5%) and smokers (14%) in both racial cohorts. Likelihood of non-immunocompromising pneumococcal high-risk conditions was higher for blacks than non-blacks at age 65, but higher for non-blacks than blacks at age 80 years (P < 0.001). Age-specific relative likelihood of mortality was 1.1%-12% higher in blacks than non-blacks (P < 0.001). Length of stay was significantly longer for blacks than non-blacks in all age and discharge status groups for non-bacteremic pneumonia and for blacks discharged alive with invasive pneumococcal disease. Costs were higher for blacks 65 years or older with invasive pneumococcal disease.

National Health Interview Survey, National Center for Health Statistics and National Inpatient Sample data were used to create black and non-black population cohorts, determine risk factors for pneumococcal disease (pneumococcal vaccine indications) and assess the impact of pneumococcal hospitalization. Each racial cohort was segmented into groups based on the presence of immunocompromising or other pneumococcal high-risk conditions. Persons without those conditions were separated into smokers (also a pneumococcal vaccine indication) and nonsmokers. Mortality was estimated from NCHS life table data. NIS data provided length of stay and costs (calculated from cost to charge ratios) for admissions related to pneumococcal disease including bacteremia, meningitis and nonbacteremic pneumonia.

Racial disparities in U.S. adult pneumococcal vaccination rates persist despite reduced barriers to access. Consequently, racial and ethnic minorities experience pneumococcal disease at higher rates than whites. This study examined prevalence of high-risk conditions and pneumococcal hospitalizations among U.S. black and non-black populations aged ≥50 years.

Marked differences exist between U.S. black and non-black populations in likelihood of conditions conferring a high-risk of pneumococcal disease, and for length of stay and costs of pneumococcal disease hospitalizations. Further research is recommended to identify cost-effective policies or interventions to increase vaccine uptake in higher risk populations.

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