Did COVID have an effect on childhood vaccination rates?

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Despite healthcare professionals insisting on the importance of keeping up with regular vaccination schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was concern parents and caregivers might let regular childhood vaccinations slide.

This doesn’t appear to be the case in New York. There has been a steady improvement in the number of New York children who have received all required vaccinations by the time they are 24 months old, based on a study from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth).

“From 2018 to 2020, New York State made progress increasing early childhood vaccination coverage rates that appear to be part of a decade-long trend,” NYSHealth said. In 2018 59.4% of New York children had been vaccinated by 24 months, in 2020 it had risen to 64.5%.

New York requires school-aged children to get the following vaccinations, according to the New York State Department of Health:

  • Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)

The NYSHealth report, which can be viewed in full below, looked at six regions in the state. The Capital region, including Capital District counties, had the third-highest vaccination rates in the state (71.1%) behind the Finger Lakes (72.2%) and Western (74.2%) regions. The Lower Hudson region had the lowest vaccination rate in the state.

Region% kids vaccinated by 24 months old
Lower Hudson54.2%
Long Island59.5%
Central68.8%
Capital71.1%
Finger Lakes72.2%
Western74.2%
Source: NYS Health Foundation

In the immediate Capital Region, Warren (81.3%), Saratoga (78.0%), and Washington (75.2%) counties had the highest vaccination rates, while Montgomery (58.5%), Fulton (60.3%), and Albany (64.6%) had the lowest.

County% kids vaccinated by 24 months old
Albany64.6%
Columbia67.7%
Fulton60.3%
Greene68.3%
Montgomery58.5%
Rensselaer73.7%
Saratoga 78.0%
Schenectady72.7%
Schoharie70.8%
Warren81.3%
Washington75.2%
Source: NYS Health Foundation

It wasn’t all good news in the report, NYSHealth said there are inequities in vaccination rates by race, ethnicity, and location.

“These gaps in vaccination coverage leave communities of New Yorkers more susceptible to preventable disease and can result in outbreaks such as the recent measles outbreaks in parts of the State. New York should expand upon school public health and provider-based strategies shown to improve vaccination coverage to help keep our youngest New Yorkers healthy and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases,” the organization said.

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