THURSDAY, Jan. 12, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Vaccine coverage by age 24 months was generally similar during the pandemic versus prepandemic, but coverage disparities remain, according to research published in the Jan. 13 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Holly A. Hill, M.D., Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined vaccination coverage by age 24 months using data from the National Immunization Survey-Child.

The researchers found that coverage among children born during 2018 to 2019 increased for most recommended vaccines compared with coverage among children born during 2016 to 2017. Coverage was greater than 90 percent for at least three doses of poliovirus vaccine, at least three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, at least one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, and at least one dose of varicella vaccine (93.4, 92.7, 91.6, and 91.1 percent, respectively). The lowest coverage was seen for two or more doses of hepatitis A vaccine (47.3 percent). Compared with those reaching age 24 months before March 2020 (prepandemic), those reaching age 24 months during March 2020 or later (during the COVID-19 pandemic) had similar or higher vaccination coverage overall. However, during the pandemic, coverage with the combined seven-vaccine series decreased 4 to 5 percent among children living below the federal poverty level or in rural areas. Coverage disparities were observed by race and ethnicity, poverty status, health insurance status, and Metropolitan Statistical Area residence among children born during 2018 to 2019.

“At the national level, coverage with most routine childhood vaccines is high; however, this high coverage is not distributed uniformly,” the authors write.

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