Head Start Children More Likely To Receive Recommended Immunizations
Dec 07, 2007
Child Trends Data Bank has released new 2006 estimates on child immunizations, noting that, "The proportion of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving the combined series (4:3:1:3) vaccines increased from 69 percent to 83 percent between 1994 and 2004. Since this time, however, progress towards full immunization of all children ages 19 to 35 months has stalled, standing at 82 percent in 2006."
The 2006 data did not show significant differences by race and ethnicity, but did show significant differences by poverty status, with 78 percent of children living below the poverty level having their recommended vaccinations, compared to 84 percent for children not living in poverty.
Yet not all poor children are falling behind: in 2006, 93 percent of young children enrolled in Early Head Start had received all immunizations appropriate or possible by the end of the program year. Working with families to ensure access to medical services, including immunizations, is a legal requirement of all Head Start programs. This comprehensive focus on all aspects of child development makes a difference, yet only about 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers, and about half of eligible preschool age children, get access to Head Start.
Children living in poverty face many risk factors to healthy development. Staying on schedule for immunizations helps to prevent illness and potential delays to development. Head Start and Early Head Start help these children stay on schedule, and provide other needed supports, such as identifying disabilities, linking families with a medical home, and finding dental services. Yet current funding levels limit the reach of these important programs; without substantial increases in funding for Head Start and Early Head Start, the data will continue to show that poor children are falling behind.