Combination vaccines decrease the number of needles required, addressing a common concern of parents. However, some parents are hesitant about combination vaccines and/or want to opt out of certain vaccine components. This study assessed whether introduction of the combination MMRV vaccine influenced coverage levels for measles- and varicella-containing vaccines.
This was a population-based study of children born in Alberta, Canada between 2006 and 2012. We utilized administrative health data to evaluate coverage for the first dose of measles- and varicella-containing vaccines at the age of 24 months (i.e. between 2008 and 2014) before and after introduction of the combination MMRV vaccine in 2010. Among those who were vaccinated, we assessed whether any children continued to receive separate vaccines after the combination vaccine was introduced.
Of 308,212 children, 272,345 (88.36%) were vaccinated with measles- and/or varicella-containing vaccines at the age of 24 months. Although coverage for measles-containing vaccines did not change overall between 2008 and 2014, coverage for varicella vaccine increased in the years following the introduction of MMRV. After the combination vaccine introduction, 96.55% of vaccinated children (n = 121,131) received MMRV vaccine.
Vaccine coverage for varicella increased after the introduction of the combination MMRV vaccine, and there was a narrowing in the gap between MMR and varicella coverage. Very few children received separate vaccines after the introduction of the combination MMRV vaccine. These findings suggest that combination vaccines are acceptable to most parents and increase coverage for varicella in our setting.