The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant decline in routine immunizations that occur during adult medical exams and children’s wellness visits. The gaps in vaccination coverage are more prevalent and widespread in ethnic and racial minority groups, who already suffer a greater disease burden when compared to non-Hispanic whites. The decline in routine immunizations in children, adolescents and adults makes the nation vulnerable to more vaccine-preventable illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths, and subsequent economic costs associated with diseases.
Catch-Up to Get Ahead
In response to this declines in routine immunization, the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS (OIDP) launched the Catch-Up to Get Ahead toolkit and a call to action to
(1) Increase access to childhood vaccines,
(2) Coordinate communication, and
(3) Utilize policy to reduce barriers to obtaining these delayed vaccinations.
The Indian Health Service also utilized Catch-Up to Get Ahead materials in five clinic sites to improve vaccination sites in these clinics. The results, which the Indian Health Service shared on a webinar, showed an increase in vaccination rates in the clinics that implemented the Catch-Up to Get Ahead materials.
Select Partner Catch-Up Efforts
Other organizations also initiated impactful catch-up efforts to facilitate catch-up immunization activities on national, state, and local levels.
- The P4 Challenge
The Health Resources and Services Administration launched the P4 Challenge (Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention) in May 2021. The competition consists of awarding $10,000 to 50 winners in phase 1 of the competition and have them implement their approach in phase 2.
The American Academy of Pediatrics launched the #CallYourPediatrician campaign to “reach parents with timely reminders that going to the pediatrician, even during COVID-19, is important and safe.” Campaign materials include sample texts, videos, and photos for posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
- Don’t Wait. Vaccinate.
The Unity Consortiumlaunched Don’t Wait. Vaccinate. with the purpose of increasing routine immunizations in the adolescent and young adult age group. The campaign employs a variety of components including educational webinars with partner organizations, a partner toolkit and website, communication and educational materials in English and Spanish, social media content, and other materials.
- Keep Up The Rates
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseasesmulti-media campaign engages national experts and leading public health organizations to reach populations most at risk of delaying vaccinations or experiencing complications from vaccine-preventable diseases, and works encourages policymakers, consumers, and healthcare professionals to take the necessary steps to maintain vaccination rates nationwide. Materials to support the campaign include the support of an organization sign-on pledge, issue briefs on the decline in vaccination rates, and educational infographics of recommended vaccines by age group in both English and Spanish.
- Our Best Shot
The Alliance for Aging Research launched the Our Best Shot campaign with new materials focused on flu vaccination, dispelling misinformation, and encouraging older adults to catch-up on routine vaccinations. The website includes a PSA video, an animated educational film, a workshop kit, and more resources, many of which are offered in both English and Spanish.
Explore these additional resources related to catch-up immunization:
- A National Foundation for Infectious Diseases webinar discussed strategies for increasing vaccination coverage in adults.
- The National Association of County Health Officials highlighted innovative ways to maintain immunization coverage in communities during the pandemic.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics overview of Reminder & Recall Systems provides information about how to use these systems to catch-up those who are behind in their routine vaccinations.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Catch-up Immunization Schedule is for persons aged 4 months–18 years who start late or who are more than 1 month behind.
- The Vaccines for Children Program offers vaccines at no cost to eligible children through health care providers enrolled in the program. Children who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program can receive vaccines at no cost through a national network of participating health care providers.
- The Immunization Coalitions Network created a repository of resources related to maintaining immunization rates during the pandemic.