On Feb. 17, 2022, the updated Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule was released by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pediatric providers across the country eagerly await this annual update to learn what changes lie in store for recommended immunization practices. During the week that has gone by since the 2022 release, I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of the highlights that are worth noting.
The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) vaccines are not on the schedule yet, undoubtedly because of the preliminary nature of the vaccine data for children and the emergency use authorization vaccine status. We currently have interim recommendations for childhood COVID-19 vaccines.
Brand new in 2022
Two new items in the 2022 schedules are worth reviewing. The first is an entirely new recommendation to administer dengue vaccine to children aged 9-16 years living in endemic areas, but only if they already have laboratory-confirmed past dengue infection. For U.S. practitioners, the endemic areas to remember are Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands in the Caribbean, as well as Pacific island areas, such as the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. There is a link in the document to additional recommendations.
The second totally new item is the combination preparation, Vaxelis, which contains DTaP, inactivated poliovirus, Haemophilus influenzae b conjugate, and hepatitis B vaccines. There are extensive recommendations for how to work it into the vaccine schedule, including some situations when it should not be used.
Selected reminders in childhood immunization
I’ll start with some key reminders about what not to do. Remember that the live inactivated influenza virus vaccine (LAIV) is recommended to begin only at age 2 years and older, compared with the inactivated influenza vaccine, which begins at 6 months. In addition, LAIV is contraindicated in patients aged 2-4 years who have a history of asthma or wheezing. Remember to avoid live virus vaccines, such as LAIV, MMR, and varicella, during pregnancy but be ready to administer those vaccines right after delivery. Similarly, HPV vaccine should be delayed until after pregnancy.
There are many special situation recommendations; I’ll highlight only a few here. One reminder is that although MMR and hepatitis A are both recommended to begin at 12 months, infants aged 6-11 months who are undergoing international travel to high-risk areas can begin with one dose before departure and then receive a two-dose series after turning 12 months of age.
Pneumococcal vaccination. Some children should receive both the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Those groups include children with chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, cerebral spinal fluid leaks or cochlear implants, and sickle cell disease, as well as many other immunocompromising conditions. Kids who need both preparations should receive the conjugate vaccine first, but they should never receive the conjugate vaccine and the polysaccharide vaccine at the same visit.
Meningococcal vaccination. Meningococcal vaccine special situations can be quite complicated. For meningococcus A,C,W,Y (MenACWY) vaccination, children with immunocompromising conditions should receive different schedules from those of typical children, but the recommendations vary by preparation.
For adolescents aged 16-23 years, the decision whether to administer the meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) vaccine is based on shared clinical decision-making, a recommendation that began in 2020. Patients with certain immunocompromising conditions are considered at higher risk and should more routinely receive MenB vaccination, with recommendations varying depending on the preparation utilized. The MenB preparations are not interchangeable. In addition, patients may receive both MenACWY and MenB vaccines on the same day, but they should be given at different body sites.
A few final reminders
In certain cases, you might avoid administering what would otherwise be routine vaccinations. For example, the rotavirus series should not begin if the infant is aged 15 weeks or older. Only one dose of Haemophilus influenzae b vaccine is indicated after age 15 months and none at 60 months or older if the child does not have high-risk conditions.
Finally, the total number of doses for some vaccines, such as pneumococcus and polio, vary depending on how old the child is if not already fully vaccinated. For example, for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine catch-up in a healthy child, one dose after age 24 months would bring the child up to date. For inactivated poliovirus in children aged 4 years or older, a third dose given at least 6 months after the second dose would bring that child up to date.
The tables can be a challenge to interpret, but fortunately simpler tables for parents are available. These make excellent handouts to have available in the office!
Dr. Basco is professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and director of the division of general pediatrics. He disclosed no relevant financial relationships. A version of this article first appeared on .