The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Childhood Vaccination Coverage in the United States: Assessing the Threat of Measles in the United States Following the COVID-19 Pandemic, Amanda Harris, UG '21 (2311546)
Vaccination is considered one of the greatest public health achievements and has significantly reduced the morbidity and mortality associated with vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) in the United States. However, as healthcare facilities became overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, routine childhood vaccination services were no longer a top priority. It is likely that many children in the U.S. have missed one or more routine vaccinations and are currently under- or unvaccinated. This poses a severe public health threat to individuals and to whole communities. Thus, this study aimed to explore the future disease dynamics of measles, a highly contagious VPD, and investigate the potential consequences of measles vaccine coverage declines during the COVID-19 pandemic to inform public health intervention. To do this, an age-structured SEIR model was parameterized with demographic data from New York and national vaccination coverage data. Using this model, vaccination coverage reduction scenarios were simulated into the future to explore the impact of different magnitude and duration coverage declines, as well as the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions, on the disease dynamics of measles. Additionally, to inform public health interventions several vaccination catch-up programs were simulated to investigate the effectiveness of age-specific catch-up programs in the United States. The results found in this study confirm that measles likely does pose a considerable public health threat. Additionally, the results of this study suggested that vaccination catch-up programs targeting school-aged children were likely to be effective at reducing measles transmission and potentially preventing severe outbreaks of measles following the COVID-19 pandemic.