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Pneumococcal Rates Fall Despite Vaccination Shortage

Infection rates for infants decline regardless of delays in completing full immunization series

TUESDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Programs to vaccinate children against invasive pneumococcal disease in the United States got off to a fast start in 2001-2002, but many children did not receive a complete series of recommended doses during a period of vaccine shortages, according to a report published in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

J. Pekka Nuorti, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues reviewed data from the 2001-2004 U.S. National Immunization Surveys covering 85,135 children, aged 19-35 months. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of children receiving pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV7s) according to the recommended four-dose schedule (at 2, 4 and 6 months with a booster dose at 12-15 months).

The proportion of children receiving at least one dose of PCV7 during their first year of life increased from an estimated 66.6 percent among children born in 2000 to 87.5 percent among those born in 2002, a period when rapid reductions in infections were observed. Full-dose vaccinations fell off to as low as 15 percent in some years, although an estimated 31 percent to 49 percent of all children had received the full four-dose series by their second birthday. Rates of vaccination uptake and coverage were associated with racial, ethnic and socioeconomic factors and also varied by state.

"The reasons for partial immunization and large geographic variation in coverage are probably related to the severe vaccine shortages that occurred during 2001-2004," the authors note, "as well as issues related to an individual state's vaccine supply and financing policies."

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