Department of Health Report Shows Childhood Immunization Rates Currently Below Pre-pandemic Averages

The Department of Health has issued a press release (Spanish) reminding the community to schedule well-child appointments to stay updated on immunizations. A new report shows that vaccination rates of children ages birth to 18 are currently below pre-pandemic levels. The Department of Health (DOH) recommends that healthcare providers and other agencies put focused effort towards encouraging routine vaccination in order to reach pre-pandemic levels of youth vaccination. 

This report provided by DOH shows that youth vaccination decreased by 13 percent in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic averages. The rate of vaccination in youth saw a sharp decline in March 2020 and has continued since then. The main takeaways from the report are as follows: 

  • Vaccine administration in 0–18-year-olds remains below pre-pandemic levels, and efforts should focus on promoting routine vaccinations for all children and adolescents. 
  • Vaccination coverage declined in all age groups except in 13–17-year-olds. Efforts should focus on increasing coverage as the pandemic continues, so rates return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Immunization rates decreased in all young children except among teens ages 13-17, who saw a 1.8 percent increase in vaccinations compared to averages from 2015-2019. 

Children and teens need to be up to date on their immunizations to attend pre-school, kindergarten, school or childcare, and DOH recommends making well-child appointments early to avoid the stress of last-minute scheduling. Additional resources related to school attendance and immunizations are available here, and many are available in multiple languages. Washington state provides all recommended childhood vaccines (from birth to 18 years of age) at no cost to families. 

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