Hepatitis B Vaccination Rates Low Among Vietnamese-American Youth
Hepatitis B vaccination rates are "substantially lower" among Vietnamese-American youth than those of the overall population, a new study published in the December issue of Pediatrics finds. Researchers, led by the University of California-San Francisco's Christopher Jenkins, conducted telephone interviews with 1,508 Vietnamese households in three metropolitan areas with "large" Vietnamese-American communities -- Washington, Dallas and Houston. While government estimates suggest that at least 84% of U.S. children ages 19 months to 35 months have received the recommended three doses of the vaccine, researchers found that only 13.6% of Vietnamese children ages 3 to 18 had received the three doses, and only 4% of Vietnamese children ages 12 to 18 were fully vaccinated. Researchers attributed the lower vaccination rates to several factors, including poor access to health care and treatment by doctors "whose training in Vietnam did not emphasize preventive care." In addition, nearly a third of the respondents were uninsured, and fewer than 25% were aware that free shots were available. Many of the children in the study had entered school before hepatitis B vaccines became routine for U.S. children during the past decade. The incidence of hepatitis B is "disproportionately high" among Vietnamese-Americans. While up to 14% of Vietnamese-American adults may have hepatitis B, less than one-half of 1% of all U.S. adults are infected with the disease (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 12/5). To view the full report, please go to http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/106/6/e78.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.