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CDC: Gaps In Non-COVID-19 Vaccinations Worsened By Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a handful of vaccinations for 11- and 12-year-olds, along with catch-up and booster inoculations for teens over 15.

But gaps remain, and the COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed progress toward closing them.

Data show a substantial decrease in the number of vaccine doses given to children and adolescents since the pandemic began. 

The agency recommends adolescents receive TDap vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, along with inoculations against meningococcal diseases and the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Prior to the pandemic, HPV coverage was up, and TDap shots held steady, although vaccination rates were lower among teens living outside metro areas.

Not so for rural teens below the poverty line, possibly thanks to the Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccinations to teens who are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured or American Indian or Alaska Native. 

Understanding the socioeconomic and geographical factors behind the disparities will require further research. 

Nicholas Gerbis joined KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk in 2016. A longtime science, health and technology journalist and editor, his extensive background in related nonprofit and science communications inform his reporting on Earth and space sciences, neuroscience and behavioral health, and bioscience/biotechnology.Apart from travel and three years in Delaware spent earning his master’s degree in physical geography (climatology), Gerbis has spent most of his life in Arizona. He also holds a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Arizona State University’s Cronkite School and a bachelor’s degree in geography (climatology/meteorology), also from ASU.Gerbis briefly “retired in reverse” and moved from Arizona to Wisconsin, where he taught science history and science-fiction film courses at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is glad to be back in the Valley and enjoys contributing to KJZZ’s Untold Arizona series.During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerbis focused almost solely on coronavirus-related stories and analysis. In addition to reporting on the course of the disease and related research, he delved into deeper questions, such as the impact of shutdowns on science and medicine, the roots of vaccine reluctance and the policies that exacerbated the virus’s impact, particularly on vulnerable populations.