In the decade following the introduction of PCV7, a 7-strain pneumonia vaccine, hospitalizations for childhood pneumonia declined and remained low, according to research in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Substantial reductions in hospitalizations for pneumonia among adults were also observed, the researchers said.

Since its introduction in 2000, the vaccine has prevented 168,000 hospitalizations for the disease each year since, and its effectiveness showed no signs of waning, according to investigators, who believe these findings alleviate concerns that strains not covered by the vaccine would become more common.

People age 85 and older and children under two years old saw the biggest benefits from the vaccine, with 73,000 and 47,000 pneumonia hospitalizations averted per year, respectively.

“This is only the hospitalizations,” said lead author Marie Griffin, MD, MPH, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “This is only one piece of what this vaccine is doing. It’s also preventing ear infections and outpatient visits. It’s really an amazing vaccine.”