Routine child and adolescent vaccinations dropped in the early stage 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 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The researchers looked at data on childhood vaccinations given from March to September 2020 in nine US states and New York City.
They found that the number of vaccinations dropped substantially from March to May, when eight of the 10 jurisdictions were under stay-at-home orders. Though vaccinations rose back to pre-pandemic levels from June to September, when most stay-at-home orders were lifted, the team says it was not enough to “catch up” children who missed routine vaccinations.
“This lag in catch-up vaccination might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning,” the CDC-led team of researchers write.
During March through May, diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccinations dropped by a median of 15.7% for children under 2 years, and 60% for children ages 2 to 6. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations declined by a median of 22.4% among children over 1 and under 2, and 63% among children ages 2 to 8. HPV vaccinations declined by a median of 63.6% among children ages 9 to 12 years, and 71.3% among adolescents ages 13 to 17.
Though vaccinations increased in the following months, no jurisdiction sustained a jump above pre-pandemic levels, which the team says would have been necessary to make up for lost ground.
The analysis included data from Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York City, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.
Findings from a separate analysis of insurance claims released Wednesday by GlaxoSmithKline showed a potential 8.8 million adolescent vaccine doses were missed in 2020. Non-influenza vaccine claims dropped by 13 to 35% among adolescents, compared to the previous year.
“As COVID-19 vaccinations become readily available to pediatric populations, CDC recommends providers consider co-administering COVID-19 vaccines with other routinely recommended vaccines, especially when patients are behind or might fall behind on routine recommended vaccines,” the CDC researchers write.