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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Many Children Aren't Completing Their Vaccination Series. Here's Why.

Posted By: Advancing Care

Most early-childhood vaccinations require multiple doses, but about 17 percent of toddlers are not getting all of the necessary doses, according to a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“This is significant for many reasons,” says Kathryn Snyder, MD, a pediatrician at WMCHealth’s Maria Fareri Children's Hospital. Incomplete vaccination leaves children vulnerable to preventable illnesses such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, hepatitis and others. Complete vaccination not only safeguards them but also contributes to community protection, establishing and upholding population-wide herd immunity.

Why are vaccination rates falling?

“I was surprised to find that parent hesitancy was not the main driver of this decline in full vaccination rates,” says Dr. Snyder. “Rather, it’s driven by social determinants of health, resulting in structural barriers and logistical challenges like insurance complications, lack of transportation or families moving to different states.”

Dr. Snyder adds, “This study was completed in 2019, but since then and the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues have only gotten worse for many families. Lots of families lost jobs and healthcare coverage, changed providers or moved states.”

While each state has a database of children’s vaccination records, these state systems are unique and not connected to each other, making it difficult for providers and parents to keep records of their children’s vaccination history when they move.

What can parents do?

Reach out to your pediatrician’s office to find out when your child is due for their next vaccination or ask for their vaccination history. “It’s also important for families to know that you don’t need to have a well visit to get a vaccine for your child, you can come in at any time and our providers will assist you,” says Dr. Snyder. “We don’t want any kids falling through the cracks.”

If you don’t know your child’s vaccination history or status, you can always catch up. The CDC has catch-up guidance for providers so, no matter what, you can get your child the recommended vaccinations. “The only two vaccinations not given after the age of five are the haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal (PCV) vaccines, but your child can get caught up on any other vaccine they’re missing,” Dr. Snyder explains.

Learn more about our pediatric services at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital or book an appointment for your child