Many children are undervaccinated or have delayed vaccinations in their first 2 years of life

Approximately one-third of U.S. children were undervaccinated for more than six months and one-fourth experienced delays in receiving many of the recommended vaccinations during their first 24 months of life, according to a study in the March 9 issue of JAMA.

Remaining appropriately vaccinated at all times decreases a child's risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases and prevents disease outbreaks, according to background information in the article. Yet a previous study found that only 18 percent of children in the U.S. received all vaccinations at the recommended ages or acceptably early (i.e., within minimum age allowances) and only 9 percent at the recommended ages.

Elizabeth T. Luman, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues examined the timeliness of receipt of vaccination among a nationally representative sample of children in the United States for each recommended vaccine and for all vaccines combined. The study consisted of the 2003 National Immunization Survey, conducted by random-digit dialing of households and mailing to vaccination providers to estimate vaccination coverage rates for U.S. children aged 19 to 35 months. Data for this study were limited to 14,810 children aged 24 to 35 months. The researchers wanted to determine the cumulative days children were undervaccinated during the first 24 months of life for each of 6 vaccines (diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis; poliovirus; measles, mumps, and rubella; Haemophilus influenzae type b; hepatitis B; and varicella) and all vaccines combined, number of late vaccines, and risk factors for severe delay of vaccination.

The researchers found that children were undervaccinated an average of 172 days for all vaccines combined during their first 24 months of life. Approximately 34 percent were undervaccinated for less than 1 month and 29 percent for 1 to 6 months, while 37 percent were undervaccinated for more

Contact: Curtis Allen
JAMA and Archives Journals

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