405: Childhood Immunization Schedules, Island Area Health Equity Plans

On the first day of National Infant Immunization Week, Dr. José Romero, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, discusses the importance of vaccines and the COVID-19 schedule for children; Karl Ensign,...

On the first day of National Infant Immunization Week, Dr. José Romero, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, discusses the importance of vaccines and the COVID-19 schedule for children; Karl Ensign, ASTHO Vice President of Territorial Support, explains plans to publish new health equity frameworks developed with Island area members; today is the final day to register online for ASTHO’s Health Equity Summit; and a new ASTHO tool provides climate and health resources.

NIIW (National Infant Immunization Week)

Immunization Schedules

For Immunization Partners

ASTHO Reports from Palau Equity Summit

Islands Health Equity Framework

Building an Island Health Equity Framework for the Future

Health Equity Summit: A Movement for Justice

ASTHO Climate and Health


ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Monday, April 24, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



Our recent data overall show that routine vaccination remains high and slightly increased among young children during the pandemic.


That's the good news. The bad news is not every child has access to vaccinations.


We did identify disparities such as these disparities widening in children living below the poverty level, those living in rural areas, and children without insurance.


Dr. José Romero is an ASTHO alum. Today, he directs the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.


The biggest change this year was involving the incorporation of the COVID-19 vaccines into the tables and notes sections of the immunization schedule. This means that COVID-19 vaccine is now presented as any other routinely recommended vaccine and is no longer called out specifically as a special vaccine in a call out box as it has been in the previous years.


Romero adds the addition of the COVID-19 vaccine to the schedule could mean more children will be protected in the future.


In a sense, what we're trying to do here is it helps normalize this vaccine and sends a powerful message to both healthcare providers and to the general public that everyone ages six months and older should stay up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including a booster if they're eligible.


The update, according to Romero, is a positive addition to the childhood vaccination routine.


We're hopeful that parents will see this as part of the routine immunizations that their children should receive as they go through their well-child visits. And seeing it now fully incorporated within the recommendations I think might help.


This is National Infant Immunization week. The CDC reminds ASTHO members about the Let's Rise Immunization Initiative. We have the link to the campaign webpage along with links to other resources in the show notes.


ASTHO and its island area members are ready to publish new health equity frameworks. This is Karl Ensign, ASTHO's vice president of territorial support.


Beginning a year ago, we started this discussion with our island jurisdictions, trusted partners, and our federal funding agencies, and of course subject matter experts. We brought in the jurisdictions and we really discussed what health equity meant, what addressing the social determinants of health meant, and two regional convenings—one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific—and that's where these health equity frameworks are really born.


The frameworks address the full range of equity issues and concerns specific to the island areas.


There are many challenges in island settings, but there are also inherent strengths that we can build on when addressing health inequities and improving population health.


Ensign is excited about the potential impact these plans could have on island public health.


We saw the strengths, for instance, with the highly effective COVID response that we saw in the Pacific and the Atlantic that really can provide lessons for the world, if you will. So these frameworks will help tell that story about the inherent strengths, the inherent challenges, opportunities, where we can work together to improve health inequities.


Ensign has written a blog article about a recent visit to Palau. You can read it using the link in the show notes.


Also, today is your last opportunity to sign up for ASTHO's Health Equity Summit that starts tomorrow in Atlanta. Online seats are still available. You can get more information by clicking on the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, Earth Day was this weekend, but it's never too late to do something good for the environment and public health. O'Keyla Cooper has more.


Climate change has had a significant negative health effect on individuals and populations, particularly high risk communities. State and territorial health agencies can use surveillance tools, vulnerability assessments, and adaptation plans to prepare and respond to adverse health effects of climate and extreme weather events. ASTHO has compiled a list of its featured climate and health resources, which can be accessed by clicking the link in the show notes.



That will do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Jose Romero MD

Secretary of Health, Arkansas Department of Health

Karl Ensign

Vice President for Territorial Support, ASTHO