Falling pandemic vaccination raises fears of measles epidemic in the United States

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FILE PHOTO: A bottle of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and an information sheet are seen at the Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts on February 26, 2015. REUTERS / Brian Snyder / File Photo

(Reuters) – Researchers have documented lower immunization rates for children in Michigan since restrictions were imposed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, raising concerns about epidemics of other diseases such as measles , said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a report on Monday.

Findings from CDC researchers indicate that pandemic stay-at-home orders, like those imposed in Michigan and other US states, could reduce access to routine immunization services and put children at risk vaccine-preventable diseases.

Data from the Michigan State Immunization Information System showed that just under half of 5-month-old infants were up to date for all vaccines recommended this month, compared to about two-thirds of infants in May from the previous four years, according to CDC researchers in their report.

Researchers looked at the doses of vaccine given to children one, three, five, seven, 16, 19 and 24 months this year and the previous four years. In the 16-month age group, coverage of all recommended vaccines decreased. The measles vaccination rate in particular has dropped to 71% this year, compared to 76% last year.

In addition to a decline in up-to-date status in almost all age groups, the number of doses of non-influenza vaccine administered to children under 24 months of age fell by more than 15% from January to April this year by compared to the same period. the previous two years, the researchers found out.

“The observed declines in immunization coverage could make young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles,” CDC scientists wrote in the report. “If 90% to 95% … measles vaccination coverage is not reached, measles outbreaks can occur. “

The researchers found a drop in vaccine coverage in all age groups studied, with the exception of hepatitis B coverage at birth, which is usually given in hospitals to newborns.

In a separate study examining national statistics, the CDC this month documented a decline in orders for routine pediatric vaccines and in doses administered.

Since vaccination requires in-person visits, CDC researchers have recommended ways to maintain services. These included devoting clinics or specific rooms to vaccinating children, reducing the number of patients on site at a given time, having patients vaccinated from their vehicle in the parking lot and asking providers to work with families to identify children missing recommended vaccinations.

Report by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Will Dunham

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