A Smart Vaccine is Needed for Parents

About 6,000 children in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., got an extra day of Christmas vacation when they were sent home, or quarantined at school, because their parents either neglected or failed to have them immunized by January 1 for chickenpox and hepatitis B.

What’s interesting is that, for the most part, these are kids from middle- or upper’class families with enough education and sophistication to know better.

The mad rush to doctors’ offices to get kids re-eligible for school – and their parents back at work – happens all over the country from time to time. We know that people in all walks of life are not particularly compliant with what is good for them, much less with specific medical directions.

A new study, however, may explain some of it. As reported by the Health Behavior News Service, immunization rates are not only not a function of mothers’s income and education, they are inversely related. Out of a sample of nearly 12,000 children, 52.9 percent of non-Hispanic white children in the sample did not have up-to-date immunizations, compared with 22.7 percent of Hispanic children and 16.1 percent of non-Hispanic black children.

The conclusion is that it is not race, ethnicity or poverty that leads to a cavalier attitude about the health of small children but family and social influences, not the least of which are government health programs.

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