Childhood Vaccinations Bounce Back After Dropping During Lockdown

Dawn O'Shea

December 15, 2020

After an initial drop at the time of introduction of social distancing measures in March 2020, hexavalent (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB) and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination counts have almost reached pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the latest data from Public Health England (PHE).

Vaccination counts data for the first dose of hexavalent in children aged six months, and for the first dose of MMR in children aged 12-18 months, were extracted from the Phoenix Partnership, which represents data from approximately 38 per cent of GP practices in England.

The data up to week 47 indicate a drop in hexavalent and MMR vaccination counts at week 13. This was followed by a rise from week 16 onwards. The number has now stabilised and is comparable to vaccination counts prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been slightly lower vaccination counts throughout the tiered restrictions (weeks 43-45) and the second national lockdown in the autumn (week 45 onwards).

Overall vaccination counts for hexavalent remain 3.8 percentage points lower than at week 47 in 2020. Overall MMR vaccination counts were 2.3 percentage points lower than 2019.

Early vaccine coverage data uploaded on ImmForm were extracted at six months of age to assess vaccine coverage for hexavalent vaccine doses 1-3, and at 18 months to assess vaccine coverage for MMR1.

The data up to October 2020 indicated that, whilst there was a small decrease in children receiving hexavalent dose 1, there has been a larger decrease in children receiving doses 2 and 3 by six months of age. Three per cent fewer children completed the three-dose course compared with October 2019.

For children scheduled to receive MMR1 vaccine from March 2020 onwards, vaccine coverage measured at 18 months of age is approximately 86 per cent - 2 per cent lower than 2019. The WHO coverage target for MMR1 is 95 per cent coverage by 24 months.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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