Fewer Prevnar doses work fine, study shows

If three doses is as good as four, why pay for another? That's the question raised by a new study of Wyeth's pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar. Researchers found that three doses--a so-called 2-plus-1 regimen--cut the carriage rate for the targeted bacteria by 60 percent. That's comparable to the results achieved from four doses, the 3-plus-1 regimen, used in the U.S. and several other countries, the study authors said.

Some countries, such as the U.K. and Sweden, already adhere to the 2-plus-1 strategy. And given that each dose runs $83 for private insurers, as the WSJ Health Blog notes, cutting the schedule to 2-plus-1 in the U.S. would save some big bucks. "In my opinion you could safely go to two-plus-one," Elisabeth Sanders, one of the study's co-authors, told Dow Jones. "Why not save the one injection if it's not required?" 

But the CDC says that its recommendations for Prevnar dosing aren't likely to change anytime soon; "[W]e've had terrific success ... with the existing schedule," an official told Dow Jones. And Wyeth says that it expects the schedule to stay the same because it matches the schedules for other childhood shots. 

- read the Dow Jones story
- see the Health Blog's take