Contra Costa County Health Officials Organize Outreach Efforts to Reach Minority Children for Vaccinations
Contra Costa County, Calif., which in the past few years slowly has been narrowing a racial gap in childhood vaccinations, has been conducting outreach efforts to further reduce the disparity, the Contra Costa Times reports (Steffens, Contra Costa Times, 5/6).
A report released this month found that more children in Contra Costa County since 2000 have received recommended vaccinations by age two, but the rate remains lower for the county's minority populations (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/5).
According to the Times, more than one-third of black toddlers in the county do not receive recommended immunizations, compared with 28% of Hispanics and 15% of whites. County health officials have been organizing community outreach sessions, such as one with a local Women, Infants and Children office.
They also have used a countywide database to track children's immunization records, including all children seen at county clinics and some private practices in West County, according to Erika Jenssen, the county's immunization coordinator.
Once a child is due for new shots, the county will mail a reminder postcard to the child's parents. If, after two postcards, the child is not scheduled for an appointment, an outreach worker will call or visit the child's home. After starting such efforts, the county has increased the number of black children immunized by 17% since 2002.
Curtis Allen, a spokesperson for CDC, said, "You want a very high number of children vaccinated if at all possible. If the number of children who are vaccinated falls considerably, disease can return." He added, "When you vaccinate a child, you're not only vaccinating that individual child but you're also protecting others in the community" (Contra Costa Times, 5/6).