New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) recently released a new report: “Getting a Fair Shot: Progress and Disparities in Early Childhood Vaccination in New York State.”
Vaccines are widely considered among the greatest public health achievements of the last century. Yet New York State has seen outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years. In addition, children of color have historically faced barriers to vaccine access, creating disparities in vaccination coverage.
A new NYSHealth report examines early childhood vaccination coverage in New York State from 2018 to 2020. It assesses the percentage of children who completed a seven-vaccine series before the age of 24 months; this series protects against 11 illnesses, including measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Data on childhood vaccination were made available through the New York State Immunization Information System and represent trends for the 57 counties outside of New York City.
The report presents disparities in vaccination coverage by race, ethnicity, and geography to identify communities of undervaccinated children in need of targeted outreach. For example, the 2020 coverage rate in the county with the lowest rate, Rockland, was approximately half as high as the county with the highest rate, Livingston (42 percent compared with 82 percent). It also discusses factors that may have increased vaccination coverage over time, such as the elimination of religious exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Recommendations for additional steps to protect all children from vaccine-preventable diseases include training providers to communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents and leveraging the state’s immunization registry to identify children who have fallen behind on immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.