May 13, 2019
1 min read

Many infants have at least one missed opportunity for rotavirus vaccination

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Photo of Robert Bednarczyk
Robert A. Bednarczyk

Fewer than 75% of infants in the United States are fully immunized with rotavirus vaccine, according to findings published in Pediatrics. Most unvaccinated infants had at least one missed opportunity, researchers said.

“Vaccine coverage reports for the CDC indicate that only approximately 70% of vaccine-eligible children aged 19 to 35 months of age are completely vaccinated for rotavirus,” Robert A. Bednarczyk, PhD, assistant professor of global health and epidemiology at the Emory Vaccine Center, and colleagues wrote. “In comparison, coverage for other vaccines given at the same ages, such as three or more doses of DTaP and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, exceeds 90%. Failure to vaccinate for rotavirus has been linked with rotavirus disease and improving rotavirus vaccine uptake is a public health priority.”

Bednarczyk and colleagues analyzed data from more than 14,500 children aged 19 to 35 months who took part in the 2014 National Immunization Survey.

Researchers defined being fully vaccinated against rotavirus as receiving three doses of pentavalent rotavirus vaccine, two doses of monovalent rotavirus vaccine or three or more doses of either vaccine. Missed opportunities for rotavirus vaccination were identified using guidelines from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and WHO.

According to the researchers, 71% of the infants were fully immunized against rotavirus, whereas 14% received no vaccine. Infants were less likely to be immunized if they were of lower socioeconomic status.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of infants who had no doses of rotavirus vaccine had at least one missed opportunity as defined by ACIP, and 83% had at least one WHO-defined missed opportunity. Missed opportunities were more common among infants of higher socioeconomic status.

The researchers suggested that rotavirus vaccine coverage could reach 81% — just above the Healthy People 2020 goal — if all missed opportunities defined by the ACIP were addressed.

“Low rotavirus vaccine uptake may be attributable to both socioeconomic barriers and possibly vaccine hesitancy,” Bednarczyk and colleagues wrote. “Understanding the barriers to rotavirus vaccine uptake and developing effective public health measure to promote vaccine use will be essential to reducing rotavirus morbidity in the U.S.” – by Katherine Bortz

Disclosures: Bednarczyk reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.