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Potential Impact on Vaccination Coverage Levels by Administering Vaccines Simultaneously and Reducing Dropout Rates

Vance J. Dietz, MD, MPH&TM; John Stevenson, MA; Elizabeth R. Zell, MStat; Stephen Cochi, MD, MPH; Stephen Hadler, MD; Donald Eddins
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(9):943-949. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170090057008.
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Background:  Retrospective immunization coverage surveys conducted during 1991 and 1992 demonstrated that coverage levels for the routine childhood vaccines by 24 months of age in selected urban areas of the United States ranged from 10% to 52%, far below the US Public Health Service goal of 90%. Therefore, appropriate programmatic changes must be identified and incorporated.

Methods:  We analyzed coverage survey data collected from 21 sites to measure the potential impact on coverage levels of implementing selected changes in vaccination practices. In a multistaged cluster survey design, school health records of kindergarten or first-grade students were randomly selected and dates of vaccination assessed. We evaluated changes in the vaccination practices, such as eliminating missed opportunities for simultaneous administration of vaccines and ensuring that children initiated the vaccination series on time (ie, by 3 months of age). We then calculated potential increases in coverage levels for a best-case scenario.

Results:  From 77% to 96% of all children in the 21 sites had received at least one vaccination by their first birthday. Children were 2.3 to 17 times more likely to be up to date on their vaccinations by 24 months of age if they were up to date at 3 months of age. Each child had many opportunities for the simultaneous administration of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis (DTP) vaccine, oral polio vaccine (OPV), and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine that, if used appropriately, could have potentially raised coverage levels by 12% to 22% (median, 17%). The highest coverage levels could have been attained if all children had started the series on time and if advantage had been taken of all opportunities for simultaneous vaccination. Coverage levels for four doses of DTP vaccine, three doses of OPV, and one dose of MMR vaccine would have increased from a baseline of 10% to 52% to levels of 54% to 83%.

Conclusions:  Although the majority of children received a vaccination by their first birthday, the coverage level at 24 months of age was low. Tracking systems are needed to ensure that children do not drop out of the system once they have begun the vaccination series. In addition, all children who are late in beginning their vaccination series are at increased risk of not completing the recommended vaccination series on time, and these children need intensive follow-up and recall efforts. Also, providers need to administer all needed vaccines simultaneously.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:943-949)

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