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Millions Have Missed Routine Vaccinations During COVID Pandemic

Millions Have Missed Routine Vaccinations During COVID Pandemic

Long before the coronavirus, public health officials were concerned about low levels of routine vaccinations that are recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for adults and adolescents for diseases like flu and HPV. A sharp drop in uptake over the two years of the pandemic has cut into the progress that has been made. A new report released Friday shows that millions of people in the United States are not only behind on their Covid-19 vaccinations, but millions more have missed other routine vaccinations throughout the pandemic.

Adults and adolescents have missed more than 37 million routine vaccinations during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an analysis of insurance claims by Avalere, a health care consulting firm. In the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Healthy People 2030 plan, one goal in development is to increase the share of adults who receive recommended age-appropriate vaccines.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – 2021/08/23: People register to receive a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccination site in Orlando on the day the FDA gave its approval of the drug for persons under 16 years of age and older.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first to be approved for COVID-19 and will be marketed as Comirnaty. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Between January 2020 and June 2021, adolescents ages 7 to 18 missed a total of about 10 million routine vaccinations, and adults age 19 and older missed a total of about 27 million vaccinations since January 2020, according to the Avalere analysis. Overall, those insured by commercial insurance plans accounted for nearly two-thirds of missed doses. Experts stress the importance of getting up to date as soon as possible.

Along with flu and HPV, other vaccinations tracked in the analysis included hepatitis, chickenpox and shingles, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), meningococcal, pneumococcal, and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Meningitis and Tdap are required by schools in most states, and coverage rates tend to be higher. But with flu and HPV, there’s a “lack of urgency,” and coverage rates were among the lowest.

The CDC recently published an outline of strategies to increase adult vaccination rates that was drafted by members of the National Adult and Influenza Immunization Summit, which was seen as a call to action to health care providers.

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Getting a flu shot now can still make a difference in the current season, health experts say. And as Covid-19 continues to circulate at an extremely high level in the US, keeping up with other routine vaccinations can help ease stress in a time of uncertainty.

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