Whether children in Minnesota were up to date on vaccinations from 2 months of age to 36 months depended on if their parents were born in the United States or outside the United States, and, more particularly, on the country of origin of their mother, reported Maureen Leeds and Miriam Halstead Muscoplat of the Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul.
In a study of 97,885 Minnesota children born during 2011-2012, fewer than half were up to date with their vaccinations by age 18 months and only 70% were up to date by age 36 months.
If children had at least one parent born outside the United States, they were 25% less likely to be up to date with their vaccinations by age 36 months than if both their parents were born in the United States. However, children whose mothers were from Africa (excluding Somalia), the Caribbean, Central and South America, or Mexico were significantly more likely to be up to date at all ages, compared with children whose mothers were born in the United States.
Children whose mothers were born in Asia, Canada, Eastern Europe, Somalia, or Western Europe were significantly less likely to be up to date at all ages than were children whose mothers were born in the United States. At 18 months, fewer than 10% of children whose mothers were born in Somalia were up to date; by 36 months, 44% were.
“Inadequate parental understanding of vaccination and weaker public health education programs in some regions might account for some of these findings, as well as economic and social factors influencing emigration, including fleeing war, religious persecution, or poverty,” Ms. Leeds and Ms. Muscoplat said. “Somali parents in Minnesota have been reported to be more likely than non-Somali parents to have concerns about the safety of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which has led to a decline in coverage with MMR and possibly other childhood vaccines. From April to August 2017, Minnesota experienced a measles outbreak, ending with 79 confirmed cases, including 65 in children of Somali descent,” they wrote.
“Encouraging medical providers to use interpreters, take time to build trust, and assess vaccination status at every visit might improve vaccination coverage” in immigrant, migrant, and refugee populations, they said.
Read more in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2017 Oct 27;66:1125-9).