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Reducing Vaccination Disparities this National Infant Immunization Week

Apr 24, 2023 | Amy Frandsen

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is observed annually during the last week of April. This week serves as a reminder to parents and caregivers, of infants and toddlers younger than 24 months, of the importance of continuing promote routine vaccinations uptake. There are currently 14 diseases infants can be vaccinated against by the time they are 24 months old. Researchers estimate the childhood vaccines prevent 20 million illnesses and 40,000 deaths per birth cohort.i Vaccines have led to a 92-100% reduction in deaths from many childhood diseases that were once common.i

According to the latest National Immunization Survey-Child (NIS-Child) data, infant immunization rates currently remain relatively stable to high, with 9 in 10 children under 24-months old receiving recommended vaccinations.ii However, when the data is further broken down, coverage disparities are found when considering race/ethnicity, poverty status, health insurance status, and geographic location. Despite the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program available to increase access to recommended vaccines for uninsured children, the number of uninsured children not vaccinated by 24 months was eight times higher than those who had private insurance.

Additionally, coverage for many vaccines was lower in Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx, than non-Hispanic White children. Vaccination coverage was also lower in children that lived in rural areas than those in urban and suburban.ii

In order to protect and keep all children safe, we must reduce these disparities in vaccine coverage by addressing the barriers these groups face. Ensuring parents and caregivers are aware of the VFC program and how they can access its resources, as well as maintaining provider networks, especially in rural areas. This will help to increase access to vaccination by reducing common financial barriers.

One study found that 6.5-31.5% of non-vaccinated children can be attributed to parental vaccine hesitancy, making this an important aspect of reducing coverage disparities.iii

While we recognize NIIW and continue to work to ensure all children are vaccinated, it is important to work with populations experiencing have coverage disparities to address barriers in our ongoing efforts to ensure children are protected from preventable diseases.

CDC and Vaccinate Your Family have both developed toolkits and resources to assist messaging during this important NIIW of 2023. Each toolkit contain graphics and social media messaging, that can be used to share vaccine messaging throughout this week and all year.

Additionally, NACCHO recently released a social media toolkit promoting routine immunization that can be utilized for NIIW messaging. Be sure to take a look at these resources to see how you can adapt them for your organization!


i https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927017/#b3-ptj4107426

ii https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7202a3.htm?s%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94cid=mm7202a3%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%94w

iii https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/191/9/1626/6549055


About Amy Frandsen

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