Over the last two years, the world has been battling COVID-19. Public health, healthcare professionals, government entities, and more came together for one goal: end the pandemic. Vaccines were developed at a rapid pace, recommendations regarding masking, social-distancing, quarantine, and isolation were made by leaders in the field, testing for the virus was expanded upon and various treatments were developed.
While we are entering 2022 still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, great strides have been made. Now is the time to not only encourage COVID-19 vaccination, but to also encourage patients of every age to get caught up on all recommended vaccines in the new year.
According to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published in June 2021, after the March 2020 declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, an analysis of provider ordering data from the federally funded Vaccines for Children program found a substantial decrease in routine pediatric vaccine ordering. Further, data from New York City and Michigan indicated sharp declines in routine childhood vaccine administration in these areas.3 Unfortunately, this downward trend has continued into 2021. In Michigan, according to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR), and as of November 2021, the vaccination rate for 19 to 36 month olds for the pediatric vaccine series (4313314 series: 4 DTaP, 3 Polio, 1 MMR, 3 Hib, 3 HepB, 1 Varicella, and 4 PCV) was 69.7%. In comparison, the vaccination rate for that same pediatric vaccine series (4313314) among that age group was 74.1% back in November of 2019. With reduced vaccine administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, unvaccinated or undervaccinated patients are susceptible to preventable illness, and communities are at risk for outbreaks. Therefore, it’s imperative to implement strategies to promote vaccination schedule adherence and ensure catch-up vaccination, especially for children. Healthcare personnel should identify children who have missed well-child visits and/or recommended vaccinations and contact parents to schedule in-person appointments, starting with newborns, infants and children up to 24 months, young children, and extending through adolescence.2
Routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service for children, adolescents, and adults, including pregnant people, that should not be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CDC, ensuring that routine vaccination is maintained or reinitiated during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits and hospitalizations, and further strain the healthcare system. All vaccines due or overdue should be administered according to the recommended CDC immunization schedules1 during each visit unless there is a specific contraindication. This will provide protection as soon as possible and minimize the number of healthcare visits needed to complete vaccination. Healthcare personnel, whether they administer vaccines or not, should take steps to ensure their patients continue to receive vaccines according to the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice. If vaccination is deferred, older adults and adults with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for complications of vaccine-preventable diseases.2
Now is the time to catch your patients, at every age, up on any vaccines they may need, including COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare providers are encouraged to utilize the MCIR to generate reminders and recall letters of patients that are overdue or coming due for recommended vaccines. It’s time to put an end to this pandemic, and to protect your patients from all vaccine-preventable diseases through timely vaccination.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2021, Aug 23. Immunization Schedules for Healthcare Providers. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2021, April 15. Interim Guidance for Routine and Influenza Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pandemic-guidance/index.html.
3. Patel B, Murthy , Zell E, et al. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Administration of Selected Routine Childhood and Adolescent Vaccinations — 10 U.S. Jurisdictions, March–September 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:840–845. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7023a2.