September 23, 2020
Rich shun vaccines as poor struggle to get them
The author of a new study of childhood vaccination rates is recommending targeted initiatives to increase coverage.
Lukas Marek, a post doctoral fellow at the University of Canterbury’s GeoHealth Laboratory, combined census data with millions of records from the National Immunisation Register to gauge immunisation trends.
He found family wealth and geography are major factors, with the most deprived areas with high Māori populations having lower number of children vaccinated against common childhood diseases.
However, there has been steady increases in immunisation coverage in these areas, while coverage has declines in recent years in affluent areas as parents delay or refuse vaccines for their children because of misinformation, false claims about safety and a perception that the risk of childhood diseases is low.
Dr Marek says in deprived areas, a child is more likely to miss out on vaccinations because of their family situation – such as whether it is a single-parent family – and the accessibility of services.
He says Māori parents were shown to have a strong preference for their babies to be vaccinated at home while Pasifika families were more likely to feel uncomfortable with strangers coming in to their homes.
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