While overall vaccination rates for U.S. children and adolescents generally are high, national surveys show that vaccination rates for young children (19–35 months old) in rural areas are lower for nearly all recommended vaccines, especially measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), with a 6.9 percentage point urban-rural gap. The same trend holds true for adolescents (13–17 years old) in rural areas recommended to receive the human papillomavirus and meningococcal vaccines. The consequences of such disparities are potentially devastating. For example, MMR vaccination rates have fallen nationally, particularly among rural children, leading to a resurgence of measles, a public health threat eliminated in 2000 through high U.S. vaccination coverage.
To better understand these disparities, AIR is conducting a qualitative study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to understand facilitators of and barriers to vaccination in rural U.S. communities. The study will include interviews with healthcare providers, parents, and community leaders in rural areas in three states to learn more about their knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes toward vaccination.