In a study conducted over 100,000 babies born in urban Ontario and followed over two years, researchers found that only 66 % were up to date on immunizations. Dr. Astrid Guttmann, lead author of the study by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) said that the overall visit rates to the doctor were around 19 times in two years. It was later found that the mothers of the kids visited he doctors when the kids are not keeping good health and are not going in for all of the scheduled well-baby visits. The results of the study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The researchers found that children who were up to date on immunizations tended to live in higher-income neighborhoods. On the other hand the mistake also lies with the doctors. They do not check on their immunization status when the youngsters visit the doctor for a cold, fever or another illness. Similarly parents also do not raise the issue because they're reluctant to have little ones stuck with a needle when they're already cranky and sick.
AdvertisementBut the parents are not aware that disease occurs among both unprotected children and adults. Guttmann pointed out to the outbreak of rubella in southwestern Ontario last spring and the recent resurgence of whooping cough in the Toronto area. Langley said from Halifax that the dip in vaccine rates are due to the fact that physicians are asked to give vaccinations and that the current year would witness a further plunge in the vaccination rates due to the new vaccines added to the already existing list.
To conduct the study, Guttmann's team analyzed two years of follow-up health-care records for 101,570 children born between July 1, 1997 and June 31, 1998. Children were considered up to date if they had the recommended three doses and one booster for Hemophilus influenza; pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, polio, and tetanus to be given at two, four, six, and 18 months and one combined dose of measles, mumps and rubella to be given after the completion of a year. All these vaccines should be given to th child by the end of two years.
Recently the cost of newer vaccines two for meningitis and one for chicken pox are covered by the insurance. Guttmann said the findings point up the need for doctors to implement an in-office system such as computerized health records - that would notify them when a child is behind on vaccinations and arrange for a visit. Langley also said that the responsibility of administering vaccines should be taken over by nurses and the public health should ensure that it is being regularly done.
Both Guttmann and Langley opted that a national immunization registry should be set up which would help track immunization rates across the country. This should be worked on by the Public Health Agency of Canada.