The World Health Organization and UNICEF have released data showing a continued decline in vaccination rates among children. In 2021, 25 million infants worldwide did not receive one or more doses of routine immunizations. This represents the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccination rates in three decades.
Health officials attribute this decline to several compounding factors. Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine fatigue caused by misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines played a role, as did supply chain and service accessibility issues caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Public health experts agree that if healthcare providers do not focus on programs designed to support childhood immunizations, there will be more disease outbreaks impacting a large number of vulnerable children, which will put additional strain on the healthcare system.
Back-to-school season is a strategic time to emphasize childhood vaccines and ensure children complete the recommended vaccine schedule. The CDC has a recommended vaccine schedule for children 18 and older. While the CDC does not set vaccine requirements for school or childcare settings, they do provide access to public health websites that set vaccine requirements on a state-by-state basis.
Vaccine hesitancy continues to be an issue that impacts vaccination rates among children. Perceived safety is one of the main reasons stated behind parental refusal of vaccines. Clinicians and vaccine providers can take steps to reassure concerned parents that vaccines administered to their children are safe and effective.
One of those steps is ensuring vaccines are stored and handled in compliance with the CDC Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit. This toolkit is regularly updated and incorporates industry-developed best practices that support the safe handling and storage of vaccine inventories.
The toolkit also supports compliance requirements for Vaccines for Children (VFC) programs that provide vaccines for children at no cost who might otherwise not get vaccinated.
Other Blogs You Might Be Interested In...
- 5 Best Practices for Proper Vaccine Storage in a Refrigerator, Freezer
- Strategies for Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy
- Medical-Grade Vaccine Storage Can Help Prevent Vaccine and Financial Loss
- Recovering Immunization Rates Post Pandemic
One recommendation the toolkit makes is to store vaccine inventories in medical-grade refrigerators and freezers. Additionally, choosing vaccine refrigerators and freezers that comply with the NSF/ANSI 456 Vaccine Storage Standard also provides assurance that refrigerators and freezers used to store vaccine inventories meet the rigorous performance standards outlined by the CDC, vaccine manufacturers, public health officials, and other key stakeholders.
Helmer Scientific has developed a Vaccine Storage Readiness Guide to help vaccine providers learn more about safe and effective vaccine storage and develop a plan to ensure vaccine inventories remain safe and effective.