One in six young children have not completed their routine immunization series, leaving them vulnerable to a host of deadly diseases.
And one in 10 hasn’t even started one of the seven injections, a new study found.
With outbreaks of measles and polio spreading across the country, diseases once thought to be in the past, the US has already seen the consequences of falling vaccination rates.
The findings come amid a growing nationwide anti-vaccine movement that has intensified after the covid pandemic.
Overall, the number of American children fully vaccinated is at its lowest level in 10 years, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former White House physician, recently admitted that the Covid vaccination mandates he championed may have caused a drop in confidence in routine injections.
A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that one in six young children have not completed their recommended series of vaccinations, and one in 10 have not even started them.
CDC’s seven vaccine series is a set of recommended vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliovirus, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, influenza B, chickenpox, and pneumonia. .
The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics, studied more than 16,000 children between the ages of 19 and 35 months.
Using data from the CDC’s National Childhood Immunization Survey, the researchers found that about 73 percent of children who received completed their combined series of seven recommended vaccinations.
However, 17 percent started the series but never completed it, which is one in six children. Additionally, 8 percent only needed one more shot to finish their series.
Researchers from several institutions, including the University of Montana, the University of Colorado, Kaiser Permanente Colorado and the Yale School of Public Health, also found that one in 10 children had not received even a single shot in the recommended vaccination series. .
One percent of the children had not received any vaccinations, including those outside the seven-vaccination series.
The strongest associations for not completing the vaccination series the researchers found were families moving out of state, having multiple children, and being uninsured.
Although national data is less limited, these new findings are consistent with the most recent data from the CDC, suggesting that more and more children are missing their vaccines.
CDC data for the 2021-2022 school year shows a 10-year low of MMR vaccination rates among kindergartners. The vaccination rate varies by state: Alaska, Wisconsin, DC and Ohio emerged as the countries with the lowest percentage of children vaccinated with MMR
Compared to the data from the 2020-2021 school year, it can be seen that MMR acceptance has decreased 1 percentage point from the previous year, with only 93.5% of children enrolled in kindergarten vaccinated against measles.
A recent report from the CDC found that among four million kindergarten-age American children, 93 percent had received the recommended vaccinations during the 2021-2022 school year.
However, 94 percent had received them in the previous year and 95 percent had been vaccinated in the previous year.
This put the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rate at its lowest level since the 2013-2014 school year, where the average rate of fully vaccinated kindergarten children was 94.7.
In New York, where the largest number of kindergartners were fully vaccinated, 98 percent had received both MMR vaccines. However, in Alaska, only 78 percent were reported to be fully vaccinated.
The CDC said this leaves at least 250,000 kindergartners vulnerable to measles.
Dr. Sean O’Leary, chair of the American Association of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, said: “Hundreds of thousands of children start school without being fully protected against measles, mumps, pertussis and other diseases that they can easily spread in classrooms.’
He added that “outbreaks like these harm children and are alarming” and warned that the problem “affects everyone in these communities.”
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 threats to public health because it “threatens to reverse progress made in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Last year, a measles outbreak among more than 80 children in Columbus, Ohio made headlines. The vast majority of infected children were not vaccinated against the disease and almost all were under five years of age.
The WHO estimates that there has been a 30 percent increase in measles worldwide.
Also, last summer, New York saw its first case of polio in a decade after it was detected in sewage. The infected man was not vaccinated.
“Some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence,” the agency said.
Scientists say that 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated against measles to achieve herd immunity, when a large part of a population is immune to a disease, due to its rapid spread.
“Increased focus is needed on strategies to encourage completion of multiple-dose series to optimize protection against preventable diseases and achieve vaccination coverage goals,” the study authors wrote.