CDC reports dip in older adult vaccinations

New data from CDC indicate that vaccination rates among Medicare beneficiaries declined during the COVID-19 public health emergency starting in March 2020.

The data, published in the February 19 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), showed that weekly administration rates of four recommended vaccines for this age group declined as much as 89% after the COVID-19 national emergency declaration was made in mid-March 2020 and many state and local governments issued shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders for residents.

The study compared weekly receipt of the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), the Td/Tdap vaccine, and the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV) by Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older from January 5 through July 18, 2020, with the same data from January 6 through July 20, 2019.

The weekly vaccination rates during the first week of the national emergency declaration on March 13, 2020, were 25% to 62% lower than those during the corresponding week in 2019.

The lowest dips came in the second to third week of April 2020, when they were 70% to 89% below 2019 rates.

Vaccination declined sharply for all vaccines studied and across all racial and ethnic groups.

Even though weekly vaccination rates gradually began to recover through mid-July 2020, by the last study week, findings indicated that they were still lower than those during the corresponding period in 2019, except for the PPSV23 vaccine.

“While the pandemic continues, vaccination providers should emphasize to patients the importance of continuing to receive routine vaccinations and provide reassurance by explaining the procedures in place to ensure patient safety,” wrote the study author in the report.

In May 2020, CDC reported that rates of childhood immunizations had sharply declined nationwide as a result of the pandemic.