Jan 21, 2022 - Health

Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

While the vaccine focus has centered around COVID, American teens and adults have missed out on tens of millions of other CDC recommended shots, a new analysis released exclusively to Axios shows.

Why it matters: It's yet another example of deferred preventative care during the pandemic — including kidney care and cancer screenings — which could ultimately turn into a major problem across the U.S. later.

The claims analysis, commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline and conducted by Avalere Health and a follow-up from a previous study, found more than 37.1 million vaccines were skipped between January 2020 and July 2021, using 2019 figures as their baseline.

What they're saying: More people are going back to their doctors and getting vaccinations. "But what we're not seeing is catch up," Leonard Friedland, GSK's vice president of scientific affairs and public health told Axios.

  • For example, a patient who recently turned 65 might be automatically prompted in a doctor's visit to get the pneumococcal vaccine. "But if you looked further back in their record, you might see they missed their shingles vaccine," Friedland said.
  • Missed vaccinations included in the analysis included the immunizations for meningitis, HPV, pneumonia, shingles, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, as well as annual flu shots. COVID vaccines were not included in the analysis.

The big picture: This figure doesn't include missed vaccines for infants and children so the problem is likely much bigger.

  • "That's really concerning because this could potentially create a public health crisis in the future of vaccine-preventable diseases. This highlights we really need to focus on this, not just for children but for teens and adults too," Friedland said.
Go deeper