September 21, 2022
Healio presents insights from a pair of research studies into vaccine disruptions and vaccine hesitancy coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. The studies show a drop in vaccine coverage in the adolescent age group and rising parental concerns into harmful effects of vaccines, respectively. Taken together, they demonstrate the need for pediatricians to effectively communicate the value of vaccines and keeping children and teens current on their vaccine schedules.
MMWR’s report focused on data from the National Immunization Survey-Teen. They found a drop in coverage of adolescents from 2015-2021 data sets in first doses of meningococcal and Tdap shots in younger teens. The percentage receiving one or more MenACWY doses by age 13 dropped 5.1 points while the percentage of those receiving Tdap by age 12 dropped 4.1 points.
Meanwhile, the second published study focused on parental concern into vaccine safety during the first two years of the pandemic. In responses from April 2020 and again in February to March 2022, the percentage of parents who agreed that vaccines were associated with illness or death increased by 13.2 percentage points (a 72% increase in the time period) and the percentage of parents who agreed vaccines cause harmful side effects increased by 6.1 percentage points.
Researchers involved in each of the studies point out the role pediatricians can play in offsetting the concerns and decline in coverage. They recommend pediatricians review vaccine histories to identify those who fall behind and ask parents what reservations they may have while addressing hesitancy.
Commenting on the story, PIDS member Sharon Humiston said, “The need for effective healthcare provider vaccine recommendations is greater now than ever before! Healthcare providers and trained staff need to be prepared with informed responses to frequently asked questions from the patients and parents we serve. Resources such as the PIDS Comprehensive Vaccine Education Program (CVEP) can really help in providing baseline knowledge and training for immunization quality improvement programs.”