The Status of Childhood Vaccine Rates in Washington State
COVID-19 disrupted both in-person learning and routine well-child visits for many children during the last year. We all want our kids to be back in school safely, and that means getting caught up on vaccines that were missed during the past year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) public sector vaccine ordering data show a 14% drop in childhood vaccines for the period of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the 2018-2019 school year, and measles vaccine is down by more than 20%. Catch-up vaccination will require efforts from healthcare systems, healthcare providers, schools, state and local governments, and families.
Here are some recommendations for closing the gap on childhood vaccine rates.
Healthcare systems and healthcare providers:
- Identify families whose children have missed doses and contact them to schedule appointments. There are tools in the Washington State Immunization Information System (IIS) to help your practice accomplish this.
- Prompt clinicians to remind parents about vaccines that are due or overdue for their children, regardless of the reason for the visit.
- Let families know what precautions are in place for safe delivery of in-person services.
Healthcare provider organizations:
- Encourage members to identify and follow up with families whose children have missed doses to get appointments scheduled soon.
- Send reminders to families about school immunization requirements.
- Follow-up with families of children who are not in compliance with requirements to encourage compliance.
- Use the state’s immunization information system’s reminder-recall capacity to notify families whose children have fallen behind on vaccines.
Schools and state and local government agencies:
We all can do the following:
- Communicate directly to families about the importance of well-child visits and getting caught up on any recommended vaccines that were missed.
Remember, adults need routine vaccines too!
Tools to address declining childhood and adolescent vaccinations:
Refer to the following resources for assistance with addressing and improving childhood vaccination rates within your practice.
|Immunization Action Coalition: Immunization Schedules for All Ages||Washington Department of Health: Immunization Trainings, Webinars and Courses||Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Vaccination Toolkit for Clinicians & Clinical Resources|
AAP Childhood Immunization Flipchart
Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a Childhood Immunization Flipchart designed to help clinicians in conversations with patients and families. The flipchart focuses on routine vaccinations for children from birth to age 6 and contains family-friendly infographics and provider talking points. There is no charge and the flipcharts are available as supplies last. Request copies of the flipchart.
For more information about the drivers behind reticence to receive vaccines, see “When Vaccine Apathy, Not Hesitancy, Drives Vaccine Disinterest” from the Journal of the American Medical Association.