Policy Statement—Increasing Immunization Coverage
In 1977, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement calling for universal immunization of all children for whom vaccines are not contraindicated. In 1995, the policy statement “Implementation of the Immunization Policy” was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, followed in 2003 with publication of the first version of this statement, “Increasing Immunization Coverage.” Since 2003, there have continued to be improvements in immunization coverage, with progress toward meeting the goals set forth in Healthy People 2010. Data from the 2007 National Immunization Survey showed that 90% of children 19 to 35 months of age have received recommended doses of each of the following vaccines: inactivated poliovirus (IPV), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), varicella-zoster virus (VZB), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). For diphtheria and tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, 84.5% have received the recommended 4 doses by 35 months of age. Nevertheless, the Healthy People 2010 goal of at least 80% coverage for the full series (at least 4 doses of DTaP, 3 doses of IPV, 1 dose of MMR, 3 doses of Hib, 3 doses of HBV, and 1 dose of varicella-zoster virus vaccine) has not yet been met, and immunization coverage of adolescents continues to lag behind the goals set forth in Healthy People 2010. Despite these encouraging data, a vast number of new challenges that threaten continued success toward the goal of universal immunization coverage have emerged. These challenges include an increase in new vaccines and new vaccine combinations as well as a significant number of vaccines currently under development; a dramatic increase in the acquisition cost of vaccines, coupled with a lack of adequate payment to practitioners to buy and administer vaccines; unanticipated manufacturing and delivery problems that have caused significant shortages of various vaccine products; and the rise of a public antivaccination movement that uses the Internet as well as standard media outlets to advance a position, wholly unsupported by any scientific evidence, linking vaccines with various childhood conditions, particularly autism. Much remains to be accomplished by physician organizations; vaccine manufacturers; third-party payers; the media; and local, state, and federal governments to ensure dependable vaccine supply and payments that are sufficient to continue to provide immunizations in public and private settings and to promote effective strategies to combat unjustified misstatements by the antivaccination movement.
Pediatricians should work individually and collectively at the local, state, and national levels to ensure that all children without a valid contraindication receive all childhood immunizations on time. Pediatricians and pediatric organizations, in conjunction with government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, must communicate effectively with parents to maximize their understanding of the overall safety and efficacy of vaccines. Most parents and children have not experienced many of the vaccine-preventable diseases, and the general public is not well informed about the risks and sequelae of these conditions. A number of recommendations are included for pediatricians, individually and collectively, to support further progress toward the goal of universal immunization coverage of all children for whom vaccines are not contraindicated.
- immunization coverage
- increasing immunization coverage
- vaccine financing
- vaccine supply
- vaccine safety
- immunization information system
- missed opportunities
- risk communication
- refusal to vaccinate
- Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics