More Children at Risk for Vaccine-Preventable Disease
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced disease prevention amongst school-aged children is heading in the wrong direction... even for vaccine-preventable diseases.
Despite the widespread return to in-person learning, pandemic-related disruptions continued to affect vaccination coverage and assessment for the 2021–22 school year, preventing a return to prepandemic vaccination levels of 95% coverage.
The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (72(2);26–32) published on January 13, 2023, revealed that during the 2021–2022 academic year, coverage decreased to approximately 93% for all state-required vaccines.
The decreased vaccination rate could be related to fewer doctor's visits and school closures, which require vaccination or exemptions to attend class.
Specifically, the CDC highlighted that many children were not current with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Nationwide, vaccination coverage with two MMR doses was 93.5%.
And 3.9% of kindergarten students were not fully vaccinated or appropriately exempt.
Overall, 2.6% of kindergartners had an exemption (0.2% medical and 2.3% nonmedical) for one or more required vaccines, not limited to the MMR.
This under-vaccination risk was recently measurable in Columbus, Ohio, where a measles outbreak impacted about 83 children.
To realign this downward trend, the CDC suggests increasing follow-up with undervaccinated students to reduce disruptions' impact on vaccination coverage, which can help protect students from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Furthermore, the CDC says access to MMR vaccines in the U.S. is significant, as most clinics and pharmacies offer vaccination services.
And beginning in 2022, to expand consumer choice, a second MMR vaccine (Priorix) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Globally, Priorix is recommended for use in individuals aged ≥9 months, according to a 1- or 2-dose schedule, depending on the country.
Furthermore, the MMR under-vaccination risk is a worldwide concern.
The World Health Organization reported in November 2022 about 40 million children are dangerously susceptible to the growing measles threat.
To better inform international travelers of their measles risks, the CDC issued a Watch-Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions notice regarding measles outbreaks in December 2022.
Disclosures: The findings in this CDC report are subject to at least five limitations. For example, comparisons among states are limited because of variations in states' requirements, such as which vaccines are required, the number of doses required, the date required, and the type of documentation accepted; data collection methods; allowable exemptions; and definitions of the grace period and provisional enrollment.
And no industry-related conflicts of interest were disclosed by these researchers.