COVID-19 vaccinations for young children now expected to start later than projected
WASHINGTON (June 15, 2020)—The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a new report about the impact of the novel coronavirus on immunization and vaccination coverage. Vaccines can help protect against infectious disease and provide immunity to people who contract the disease. Vaccines are also critical resources to protect healthy people from getting the disease to begin with.
The GAO’s report, Immunization Coverage in the U.S. Post- COVID-19, includes data from 2018 and 2019, both pre- and post- COVID-19. It summarizes the results of a new survey that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better understand the effect of COVID-19 on vaccine coverage.
The report identifies areas where the response needs to be improved to protect public health, particularly vaccines for infants. For example, CDC’s response to COVID-19 did not include plans to extend the age limits for all recommended childhood immunizations, including the first dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTP), which was not extended.
As HHS begins to plan the resumption of immunizations, HHS has begun contacting states, territories, tribes, and other public health agencies about how to manage vaccine responses. HHS is continuing to work with states and tribes to explore the possibility of extending the age limits for recommended childhood immunizations. HHS has also asked CDC to work with states, tribes and other public health agencies to develop potential strategies.
The GAO released a report titled “The United States Preventive Services Task Force and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee Under Fire: Ensuring Vaccine Immunization Coverage for Children and Adolescents,” which examines the implementation of the Vaccines for Children program and the Vacc