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Pediatrics. 2017 Sep;140(3). pii: e20170298. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-0298. Epub 2017 Aug 2.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Requiring Hospitalization.

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College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania; and.
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania



Plain children often have lower immunization rates than non-Plain children. Penn State Health Children's Hospital is a tertiary medical center with large nearby Plain (Amish and Mennonite) communities. We sought to describe the characteristics of children hospitalized with vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). We hypothesized that Amish children would have a higher risk of VPDs than non-Amish children.


International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes were used to identify patients <18 years diagnosed with a VPD from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2015, at Penn State Children's Hospital. Demographic information, immunization status, and outcomes were obtained from medical records. By using the number of children in our primary service area, we calculated the risk of VPD requiring hospitalization for Amish and non-Amish children. We assessed the relationship between Plain affiliation and vaccination status by using the Pearson correlation coefficient.


There were 215 children with 221 VPDs. Most occurred in non-Plain children: 179 of 221 (81%). Except for pneumococcal infections, VPD occurred mostly in unvaccinated or immunocompromised children, regardless of Plain affiliation. There were 15 Haemophilus influenzae type b and 5 tetanus infections that occurred in children with an unvaccinated or unknown vaccination status. The risk of a VPD requiring hospitalization was greater for Amish than for non-Plain children (risk ratio: 2.67 [95% confidence interval: 1.87-3.82]). There was a strong correlation between Plain affiliation and lack of vaccination (r = -0.63, P < .01).


Amish children had an increased risk of a VPD requiring hospitalization than non-Plain children. With the exception of those with pneumococcal disease, most vaccinated children hospitalized with a VPD were immunocompromised.

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