Vaccination rates generally high in U.S. children in 2018



Vaccination rates among kindergartners during the 2018-2019 school year and children aged 24 months during 2016-2018 remained high, but several gaps in coverage remained, new research found.

A close-up of medical syringe with a vaccine. MarianVejcik/Getty Images

The national vaccination rate for the almost 4 million kindergartners reported as enrolled in 2018-2019 was 94.9% for DTaP, 94.7% for 2 doses of MMR, and 94.8% for state-required doses of varicella. The MMR vaccination rate fell just short of the recommended 95% vaccination rate threshold, according to Ranee Seither, MPH, of the immunization services division at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), and associates.

By state, Mississippi had the highest vaccination rate, achieving at least 99.2% coverage for DTaP, MMR, and varicella. Colorado had the lowest vaccination rate for MMR and varicella at 87.4% and 86.5%, respectively; Idaho had the lowest DTaP vaccination rate at 88.8%.

A total of 20 states had at least 95% MMR coverage while 2 had under 90%, 21 states had at least 95% DTaP coverage with only Idaho having below 90%, and 20 states had at least 95% varicella coverage with 4 states having below 90%.

Nationally, 2.5% of kindergartners had an exemption from at least one vaccine, and 2.8% were not up to date for MMR and did not have a vaccine exemption. The investigators noted that, if all nonexempt kindergartners were vaccinated in accordance with local and state vaccination policies, nearly all states could achieve the 95% MMR vaccination threshold.

“Recent measles outbreaks in states with high overall MMR coverage, such as New York, highlight the need for assessing vaccination coverage at the local level. [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] encourage programs to use their local-level school assessment data to identify populations of undervaccinated students and to partner with schools and providers to reduce barriers to vaccination and improve coverage,” Dr. Seither and associates wrote.

In a study published in the same issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Holly A. Hill, MD, PhD, and associates from the immunization services division at NCIRD, found that, according to data collected from 25,059 participants in the National Immunization Survey–Child, national vaccination coverage in children aged 24 months was generally strong and stable.

The vaccines with coverage of at least 90% were poliovirus (92.7%), MMR (90.4%), hepatitis B (91%), and varicella (90%). Complete hepatitis A (74%), rotavirus (72.4%), influenza (53%), and combined seven-vaccine series (68.4%) rates were below 80%. Only 1.3% of children received no vaccinations.

In general, the highest rates of coverage were seen in children with private insurance, followed by those with other insurance, those with Medicaid, and finally those without insurance. Disparities also were seen depending on race/ethnicity, poverty level, and rural/urban location. Vaccination rates also varied by state; for example, 20 states had vaccination coverage for one dose of MMR below 90%, with 6 having coverage above 94% (Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Wisconsin).

“Improvements in childhood vaccination coverage will require that parents and other caregivers have access to vaccination providers and believe in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Increased opportunity for vaccination can be facilitated through expanded access to health insurance, greater promotion of available vaccines through the Vaccines for Children program, and solutions to logistical challenges such as transportation, child care, and time off from work. Providers can improve vaccination coverage overall and reduce disparities by administering all recommended vaccines during office visits,” Dr. Hill and associates wrote.

No conflicts of interest were reported by the investigators of either study.

SOURCES: Seither R et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:905-12; Hill HA et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:913-8.

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