‘Unable to have a proper conversation over the phone about my concerns’: a multimethods evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 on routine childhood vaccination services in London, UK

Eleanor Buck*, J. Burt, K. Karampatsas, Y. Hsia, G. Whyte, G. Amirthalingam, H. Skirrow, K. Le Doare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objectives
Investigating the completion rate of 12-month vaccinations and parental perspectives on vaccine services during COVID-19.

Study-design
Service evaluation including parental questionnaire.

Methods
Uptake of 12-month vaccinations in three London general practices during three periods: pre-COVID (1/3/2018–28/2/2019, n = 826), during COVID (1/3/2019–28/2/2020, n = 775) and post-COVID first wave (1/8/2020–31/1/2021, n = 419). Questionnaire of parents whose children were registered at the practices (1/4/2019–1/22/2021, n = 1350).

Results
Comparing pre-COVID and both COVID cohorts, the completion rates of 12-month vaccines were lower. Haemophilus influenzae type B/meningococcal group C (Hib/MenC) vaccination uptake was 5.6% lower (89.0% vs 83.4%, P=
Black/Black-British ethnicity children had increased odds of missing their 12-month vaccinations compared to White ethnicity children (adjusted odds ratio 0.43 [95% confidence interval 0.24–0.79, P = 0.005; 0.36 [0.20–0.65], P < 0.001; 0.48 [0.27–0.87], P = 0.01; 0.40 [0.22–0.73], P = 0.002; for Hib/MenC, MenB booster, PCV booster and MMR. Comparing pre-COVID and COVID periods, vaccinations coded as not booked increased for MMR (10%), MenB (7%) and PCV booster (8%).

Parents reported changes to vaccination services during COVID-19, including difficulties booking and attending appointments and lack of vaccination reminders.

Conclusion
A sustained decrease in 12-month childhood vaccination uptake disproportionally affected Black/Black British ethnicity infants during the first wave of the pandemic. Vaccination reminders and availability of healthcare professionals to discuss parental vaccine queries are vital to maintaining uptake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-236
JournalPublic Health
Volume225
Early online date07 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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