SPCHS Partners with State Health Officials to Study Childhood Vaccines

Rural areas of the United States have lower vaccination rates than urban areas, and Montana’s early childhood vaccination rates are lower than the national average. Through a partnership with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, SPCHS Assistant Professor Sophia Newcomer recently led a study to identify how many young children in Montana are receiving vaccines per the immunization schedule recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  The study team analyzed immunization records from over 30,000 Montana children, and found that fewer than 2 in 5 children get all recommended vaccine doses on-time, per the ACIP schedule.  About 18% of Montana children were vaccinated per an alternative schedule – either having shots spread out across visits, or getting some vaccines but not others – suggestive of parental vaccine hesitancy.  Another 19% of kids were simply missing vaccine doses needed to complete vaccine series that involve multiple doses to achieve full disease protection.  The findings from this study, which was funded by a National Institute of Health Center for Biomedical Research Excellence grant, indicate that initiatives to increase vaccine confidence, as well as to remind parents to return for additional vaccine doses, are needed to boost vaccine uptake in the state.  The full study was published online this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(21)00140-9/fulltext.