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7/16/2002

Routine MMR, DTaP Vaccinations to Resume

Kate Traynor

National supplies of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine have improved enough to allow the routine vaccination of children with these products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Despite the improvement, CDC cautioned in a July 12 Morbity and Mortality Weekly Report notice that health care providers should order no more than a 30-day supply of the vaccines "to ensure that current supplies can meet requirements."

Earlier this year, CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) had asked health care providers who lacked enough DTaP vaccine to maintain all of their young patients on the five-dose childhood immunization schedule to defer the fourth, and possibly the fifth, dose of the vaccine. The fourth dose of the vaccine is normally given at 15 to 18 months of age and the fifth between ages 4 and 5 years. The first three doses, which ACIP did not recommend deferring, are administered between 2 and 6 months of age.

In responding to the MMR vaccine shortage, ACIP had recommended that health care providers administer the first dose of the vaccine on schedule, at 12–15 months of age. ACIP asked that the second dose, which is usually administered to children ages 4–6 years, be deferred if necessary to reserve enough vaccine for infants to receive the first dose.

Although CDC has approved the resumption of routine MMR and DTaP vaccinations, the agency asked health care practitioners to wait before initiating special vaccination plans or recall programs for patients whose vaccine doses had been deferred. But CDC noted that children who visit a health care provider for reasons unrelated to vaccination can receive any missed doses during the visit. Children can likewise be given the vaccines in response to a parent's request.