Routine childhood and adolescent vaccinations declined in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, and an increase in the following months was not enough to regain lost ground, according to research published Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers looked at data on childhood vaccinations from March to September 2020 in nine U.S. states and New York City.
They found that the number of vaccinations dropped significantly from March to May, when eight of the ten jurisdictions were under orders to stay at home. Although vaccinations rose back to pre-pandemic levels from June to September, when most home orders were lifted, the team says it was not enough to “catch up”
“This delay in obtaining vaccination could pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, particularly in schools reopened for personal learning,” the CDC-led research team writes.
During March to May, diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccinations fell by a median of 15.7% for children under 2 years and 60% for children aged 2 to 6. vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella fell with a median of 22.4% among children over 1 and under 2 and 63% among children aged 2 to 8. HPV vaccinations decreased by a median of 63.6% among children aged 9 to 12 years and 71.3 % among young people aged 13 to 17.
Although vaccinations increased in the following months, no jurisdiction maintained a jump over prepandemic levels, which the team says would have been necessary to compensate for lost ground.
The analysis included data from Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York City, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Results from a separate analysis of insurance claims released on Wednesday by GlaxoSmithKline showed that a potential dose of 8.8 million teen vaccines was missed in 2020. Non-flu vaccine claims fell by 13 to 35% among adolescents compared to the previous year.
“As COVID-19 vaccinations become readily available to pediatric populations, the CDC recommends that providers consider administering COVID-19 vaccines in conjunction with other routinely recommended vaccines, especially when patients are lagging behind or may be lagging behind routinely recommended vaccines,” writes The CDC researchers.