Pandemic-Related MMR Vaccine Decline Persists

Authors say catch-up strategies are necessary to ensure young children receive preventive care

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- There has been a 10 percent decline in young children receiving their first measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccination by age 16 months, according to a research brief published in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Sara M. Bode, M.D., from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues evaluated changes in the proportion of children with their first MMR vaccination by age 16 months from March 2017 to August 2020. They considered April to May 2020 to be the start of the pandemic when clinic access and attendance decreased and June to August 2020 to be the period in which return for clinical care was encouraged. Data from 12 clinic sites in a pediatric primary care network were included in the analysis.

The researchers found that from March 2017 to March 2020, the average proportion of 16-month-old children with MMR vaccination was 72 percent, which decreased to 66.8 percent in April to May 2020 and then to 62.4 percent from June to August 2020. Compared with those with private insurance or enrolled in Medicaid, patients without insurance were less likely to be vaccinated. White and Black patients were less likely to be vaccinated than patients who were Hispanic or Asian American. When adjusting for insurance status and time period, there was no difference observed in vaccination rates between White and Black patients.

"Given the baseline low vaccination rates even before the pandemic and the subsequent decline, we face a critical need to improve timely vaccination and provide catch-up opportunities in the area with the highest incidence of COVID-19 in Ohio," the authors write.

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