HealthDay News — Preterm infants, including those born late preterm, have a lower rate of completion of recommended vaccines by age 19 months, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in Pediatrics.

Annika M. Hofstetter, MD, PhD, MPH, from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 10,367 Washington state infants with birth hospitalizations during 2008 to 2013. Completion of the recommended 7-vaccine series by 19 months of age was compared for preterm infants and term/postterm infants (born at <37 weeks of gestation and born at 37 to 43 weeks of gestation, respectively).

Overall, 19.3% of the infants were born prematurely. The researchers found that compared with term/postterm infants, preterm infants had lower completion of the 7-vaccine series by 19 months (47.5 vs 54.0%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.77) and 36 months (63.6 vs 71.3%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.73). Compared with term/postterm infants, early preterm (23 to 33 weeks of gestation) and late preterm (34 to 36 weeks of gestation) infants had a lower rate of 7-vaccine series completion. Between-group differences were also seen for full influenza coverage by 19 months (early preterm, 47.7%; late-preterm, 41.5%; term/postterm, 44.7%).

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“The reasons for this are unclear but could reflect parental and provider factors, such as perceptions of medical vulnerability, vaccine safety beliefs, understanding of current vaccine recommendations, and provider-family vaccine communication, as well as health care use patterns in these high-risk infants,” the authors write.

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