Big Drop in All Routine Vaccinations for Kids, Adults During Pandemic

FRIDAY, Oct. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Stay-at-home orders related to COVID-19 appear to have kept people from vital vaccinations.

There was a sharp drop in routine vaccinations among children and adults during strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in Michigan in 2020, a new study shows.

The analysis of statewide data also found a decrease in sites providing childhood vaccinations, particularly those that provide care for more vulnerable youngsters, such as those covered by Medicaid.

"As we strive to achieve pre-pandemic levels of routine vaccines, it is vital to ensure catch-up vaccination of doses missed throughout the pandemic to stem outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles," said study co-author Angela Shen, a visiting research scientist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Both adult and pediatric providers must identify which patients need catch-up doses and make sure those individuals get vaccinated, so that we don't see a resurgence of viruses that we have the tools to prevent," Shen added in a hospital news release.

Compared to 2019, the researchers found a dramatic decrease in 2020 in overall vaccine doses and declines in complete doses of the combined 7-vaccine series (which prevents 13 diseases) among children aged 19 months to 35 months.

In all age groups, the greatest decreases were during April 2020 ‒ shortly after a national emergency was declared in the United States. Teens had the largest decline in vaccinations that month (86%), followed by children aged 2 to 8 years (83%), and adults (82%). Children younger than 2 years had the smallest decrease (35%).

In terms of where adults receive their vaccinations, the largest drop was in local health departments. There were increases in Ob/Gyn provider sites and pharmacies.

The number of sites reporting vaccinations in children aged 0 to 18 fell in the early months of the pandemic and remained below 2018 levels by the end of 2020.

There was also a decrease in the number of patients vaccinated through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, according to the study.

"As society shifts to a new normal, recalibrating to a world where SARS-CoV-2 is endemic, COVID-19 vaccines will certainly transition onto the routine immunization schedule in some form," Shen said.

"It is critical to ensure the immunization delivery system supports timely, accessible, and reliable access to routinely recommended vaccines across the nation, sustaining historical high coverage in children and strengthening increasing coverage for adolescents and adults," she added.

The results were published Oct. 7 in the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on childhood vaccinations.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, news release, Oct. 7, 2021

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