Disclaimer: Moving Health Care Upstream is a collaborative effort originally co-led by Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours) and the Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities at the University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Nemours, UCLA or the Moving Health Care Upstream initiative.
At Nemours, our core mission to help keep children healthy and thriving.
We are very encouraged to see that the Biden Administration announced this month another funding campaign to increase availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to lessen the spread and impact of the novel corona virus. Along with funding, the Administration is doubling down on efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy and disinformation – two powerful forces working against our nation’s recovery.
And yet, as a health system that routinely vaccinates children against devastating and contagious diseases – like polio, hepatitis, measles, and diphtheria to name a few – we have long been acutely aware of the danger that vaccine delays, refusal and hesitancy pose. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy and the disinformation often associated with it have challenged pediatric providers to do our part in keeping our country’s little ones healthy and safe from known, preventable disease.
We also know that vaccine uptake rates are disproportionate across demographic groups, likely for a variety of reasons. There may be vaccine hesitancy, there may be lack of access, or there may be other reasons we aren’t aware of. Unfortunately information on vaccine uptake is not effectively disaggregated. Knowledge is certainly power in the healthcare domain, and we need more information regarding the underlying causes of vaccine delays, refusal or overall hesitancy in order to reach the most at-risk populations. At this critical juncture, as our nation is undertaking a wide-scale vaccination effort, we have an opportunity to capture data to inform our vaccination strategy beyond the current pandemic.
At Nemours, we support a joint effort between providers and public health agencies at the state and federal level to effectively collect and report non-identifiable, demographically disaggregated data on routine and COVID-19 vaccine uptake for all age, racial and ethnic groups, including children. This information is critical in helping us all better understand and address the challenges communities face in ensuring children are protected against preventable illness. This data should then be analyzed in the context of the delivery models and campaign messaging across different communities so that we better understand new and existing barriers, and can most effectively design our strategies moving forward.
We call on the Administration to take the lead on this historic opportunity to improve the way vaccine uptake data are collected and reported. If we work together, we can take one more step toward protecting and creating the healthiest generations of children.