Hepatitis A vaccine was first licensed in the United States in 1995.
In 1996, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended
vaccination of children aged 24 months in populations with the highest
incidence of Hepatitis A.
These populations included American Indian, Alaska Native,
Asian/Pacific Islander, and selected Hispanic and religious communities.
In 1999, these guidelines were expanded to recommend routine vaccination for children residing in 11 states where average annual Hepatitis A incidence
during 1987 to 1997 was at least 20 per 100,000 population (twice the national average).
The guidelines also recommended the routine vaccination for children in 6 states where the average annual incidence was 10 to 20 per 100,000 population.
Dr Fiore and colleagues conducted the first national analysis of Hepatitis A vaccination coverage among children.
The researchers used the National Immunization Survey, which provides annual estimates of vaccination coverage as of the time of household interview among children aged 19 to 35 months for the 50 states and 28 selected urban areas.
The National Immunization Survey collects vaccination data for all age-eligible children, using a quarterly, random digit–dialing sample of telephone numbers.
Information on vaccination history was collected during 2003 from telephone interviews for 19,979 children and vaccination records were available for 13,731.
| Vaccination coverage levels with at least 1 dose of Hep A vaccine for children varied from 6% to 73%|
The research team found that children residing in the 11 states where routine Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended, 51% received at least 1 dose of Hepatitis A vaccine.
In addition, the team observed that children residing in the 6 states where routine Hepatitis A vaccination should be considered, 25% had received at least 1 dose of vaccine.
The investigators also noted that children residing in the 33 states without a specific recommendation, only 1% had received at least 1 dose of Hepatitis A vaccine.
The researchers concluded that in 2003, vaccination coverage levels with at least 1 dose of Hepatitis A vaccine for children aged 24 to 35 months varied from 6% to 73% in areas where routine vaccination is recommended.
Dr Fiore’s team concluded, “Hepatitis A vaccination coverage rates for children aged 24-35 months are lower than overall rates for other vaccines recommended for children.”
“Sustaining and improving vaccination coverage among young children is needed to ensure continued declines in Hepatitis A incidence in the United States.”