HealthDay News — Medicaid beneficiaries with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who are not vaccinated are at risk for potentially avoidable acute care use for vaccine-preventable illnesses, according to a study published online May 4 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Candace H. Feldman, M.D., Sc.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used U.S. Medicaid claims from 29 states (2000 to 2010) to identify adults (18 to 65 years) with prevalent SLE and 12 months of enrollment prior to the first SLE code. Use of acute care for vaccine-preventable illnesses was examined.

The researchers found that of the 45,654 Medicaid beneficiaries with SLE, less than 10 percent received vaccinations. At least one emergency department visit or hospitalization occurred in 1,290 patients for a vaccine-preventable illness (6.6 per 1,000 person-years), of which the vast majority (93 percent) of events occurred in unvaccinated patients. Black patients had a 22 percent higher risk for an emergency or hospitalization event compared with White patients. Lower risk was associated with greater outpatient visits.

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“These episodes represent missed opportunities to deliver essential preventive care to our patients, and particularly to patients with heightened vulnerabilities,” Feldman said in a statement.

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