Latinos Often Have Highest Vaccination Rates in Calif., Experts Say
Latino individuals have the highest vaccination rates in California, which experts say results in lower prevalence of whooping cough among that population amid a statewide outbreak of the disease, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 7/15).
Background on Outbreak
Whooping cough, or pertussis, has reached epidemic levels in California, with about 5,400 cases of the illness reported in the state as of July 8, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Ninety percent of cases occurred in individuals under age 18, with 71% of pediatric cases occurring in children ages seven to 16.
Of the cases so far this year, 156 required hospitalization, including 97 patients who were younger than four months old.
The highest rates of whooping cough cases have been reported in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties (California Healthline, 7/22).
Details of Latino Vaccination Rates
DPH Deputy Director Gil Chavez said that the Latinos have "a culture of vaccination" and are less likely to file personal belief exemptions.
James Cherry, a professor of pediatrics at UCLA School of Medicine, said Latino residents also "are more likely to go along with the general health policy recommendations of doctors they see."
A 2010-2011 survey found the overall immunization rate for two-year-old Latino children was 72.7%, compared with 68.8% for white children in that age group. State health officials said a new survey on vaccination being released in coming months is expected to show similar results.
High vaccination rates among Latinos can result in "dramatically lower incidence of whooping cough," the Mercury News reports. For example, the rate of whooping cough diagnoses among white teenagers this year is more than double the rate among Latino teens.
However, the rate of whooping cough among Latino infants younger than one year old is on the rise, according to the Mercury News. Maria Elevado, a pediatrician at Salud Para La Gente in Watsonville, said the increase could be caused by Latino infants living in big households with "unvaccinated aunts, uncles and grandparents" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/15).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.