According to information from the Tennessee Department of Health In 2020, there were almost 140,000 fewer doses of childhood vaccines administered to children aged 24 months or less than in 2019. In 2021, there were almost 80,000 fewer doses of childhood vaccines administered to children aged 24 months or less than in 2020. Between 2019 and 2021, almost 220,000 (13.6%) fewer doses of childhood vaccines have been administered to Tennessee Children. This places Tennessee children severely behind on vaccinations, as to achieve catch-up doses of missed routine vaccinations, children must sustain or increase the number of weekly doses received to that of pre-pandemic counts.
Black children were less likely to be fully immunized for all twelve of the recommended CDC vaccinations and statistically significantly less likely to receive DTaP, HIB, 4:3:1:FS:3:1:FS, Flu, and RTV compared to their white peers. Only 66.1% of black children were properly immunized with RTV vaccine compared to 78.9% of white children, and 35.0% of black children were immunized against influenza compared to 58.3% of white children.
Tennessee has had poor uptake of COVID-19 in all age groups. According to CDC data and data from the state immunization registry (TennIIS) Tennesseans with at least one dose is currently at 59.5% of the total population compared to the national average of 76.1%. Tennesseans fully immunized is currently 52.6% of the total population compared to 64.7%.
Primary care practices face as uphill battle to increase childhood immunization rates and to promote COVID-19 vaccines to children now that COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children 6 months of age and older. Practices need educational support, resources for vaccine promotion and support to promote evidence-based process changes that can assist to increase all immunization rates.