According to a Kaiser Permanente study, the rate of recommended vaccine doses administered to children has dramatically decreased since the outbreak of COVID-19
The results showed that vaccine coverage continued to decline even after uptake recovered, causing the number of unvaccinated children to grow.
The researchers compared January through August 2020 with the same period in 2019.
- Overall vaccinations declined in all children during the pandemic period in 2020 compared with 2019, but they recovered completely in children under 2 by May.
- They only partially recovered in older children.
- After an initial decline in measles vaccinations of up to 93% among children aged 2 to 18 years during the pandemic, measles vaccinations partially recovered but remained lower in 2020 than in 2019.
- Measles vaccination coverage was unchanged in the 7-year-old patients
- There was a significant decrease in measles vaccination coverage among 16-month-old patients that worsened over time.
The study’s lead author, Bradley Ackerson, MD, a Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center pediatric infectious disease specialist and an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation’s vaccine team, said:
“When vaccination rates decline, we worry about an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases that can be harmful to children. Also, we know there has been a reduction in childhood vaccinations worldwide, and as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, there will be an increased risk of outbreaks due to vaccine-preventable diseases among children returning from outside the United States, unless children here are vaccinated”, he added.
“While the severe decrease in measles vaccine uptake among children improved, measles vaccine uptake remained substantially reduced, so the population of unvaccinated children is continuing to grow. The decrease in measles vaccine uptake is very concerning as even a 2% to 5% reduction in measles vaccination coverage is projected to result in exponential increases in measles outbreaks.”
The patient group was aged between birth and 18 years and consisted of 49% female, 24% non-Hispanic white, and nearly 50% Hispanic.
*Vaccination coverage is a measure of the proportion of children vaccinated at specific ages.
**Vaccine uptake is the number of children getting vaccinated.
The full study has been published in Pediatrics.
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