IMMUNIZATIONS: CDC Finds Poor Children Get Fewer Shots
More poor children are receiving immunizations, but they still don't receive their shots at the same rate as children from wealthier families, according to a report in today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The National Immunization Survey found that the goals set by the 1996 Childhood Immunization Initiative were either "met or exceeded" for all U.S. children. That initiative strived to immunize at least 90% of the nation's children ages 19-35 months with three doses of diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTP) vaccines, poliovirus vaccine, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines and one measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine. They also aimed to immunize at least 70% with a minimum of three hepatitis B vaccines. Of the 22,393 children that the researchers studied, "children living below poverty level had significantly lower coverage for all vaccines." Ninety-three percent of poor children received the DTP shots, compared to 97% of wealthier children. For both the polio and Hib vaccine, 90% of underprivileged children received the shots, while 92%-94% of more privileged children received the shots. The study found a 6% gap (86% for poor children, 92% for others) in measles vaccination between poor and wealthier children and a 5% span (80% for the impoverished, 85% for others) for the hepatitis B shot. The study, which contacted respondents in each state and 28 urban areas through random-digit dialing, found "few statistically significant differences in coverage by race/ethnicity." In the study's editorial note, however, researchers emphasize that that many disparities in coverage among ethnic minorities is "partly ... accounted for by poverty level." The study concluded that more studies "are needed to determine how poverty is associated with undervaccination to target interventions and improve coverage" (MMWR, 9/13 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.