HealthDay News — The availability of vaccine providers increases COVID-19 vaccine coverage among children aged 5 to 11 years, according to research published in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jennifer DeCuir, MD, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined how provider availability influenced COVID-19 vaccination coverage among children aged 5 to 11 years using data on active COVID-19 vaccine providers and county-level vaccine administration data during November 1, 2021, to April 25, 2022.

The researchers found that 87.5% of the 2586 US counties included in the analysis had at least 1 active COVID-19 vaccine provider serving children aged 5 to 11 years. Of the 5 active provider types assessed, most counties had at least 1 pharmacy or public health clinic (69.1% and 61.3%, respectively), while fewer had at least 1 pediatric clinic, family medicine clinic, or federally qualified health center (29.7%, 29.0%, and 22.8%, respectively). The median vaccination coverage was 14.5% at the county-level. Vaccination coverage was higher in counties with at least 1 active COVID-19 vaccine provider than in counties with no active providers after adjustment for social vulnerability index and urbanicity (adjusted rate ratio, 1.66). For each provider type, presence of at least one provider in the county was associated with higher coverage; the difference in coverage was largest comparing counties with and without pediatric clinics (adjusted rate ratio, 1.37).

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“Ensuring widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to other strategies to address barriers to vaccination, could increase vaccination coverage among children aged 5 to 11 years,” the authors write.

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