Investigators from The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine’s Children’s Immunization Education Initiative (CIEI) Program will present their findings from a childhood immunization survey in Hidalgo County colonias at two meetings this week at the A&M Health Science Center’s South Texas Center in McAllen. Program Director and College of Medicine Executive Associate Dean Roderick E. McCallum, Ph.D., and CIEI Program Coordinator Nancy Arden, M.N., will report on the project’s findings to community leaders, public health officials, health care providers and volunteers. The project was funded by the Houston Endowment.
The meetings will take place on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Thursday, September 16, 2004, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Room 101 in the South Texas Center, which is located at 701 E. Vermont Street in McAllen.
The project’s Executive Summary describes the scope of the CIEI study: “As Texas ranks low in childhood immunization rates, we were interested in surveying the immunization status of young children in underserved communities in South Texas. The primary objectives of the survey were to assess immunization coverage of children ages 19 months through 35 months living in colonias in Hidalgo County; assess parental knowledge and attitudes about immunizations; and determine the importance of access to health care, cost, health services delivery, and vaccine promotion, education and outreach strategies.”
The major findings that Dr. McCallum and Ms. Arden will discuss include the following:
· Young children living in Hidalgo County colonias are at least as well immunized as other children in Texas, and may have better coverage than the average child.
· While the up-to-date immunization status in this survey was higher than expected, many children were vaccinated later than recommended.
· The type of health insurance that covered the child’s medical expenses was strongly associated with immunization coverage. Children covered by CHIP or Medicaid had substantially higher coverage for most vaccination series.
· Although only 12 percent of those surveyed cited lack of money as a barrier to getting their children immunized, their children were significantly less likely to be up-to-date. They were also more likely to have no insurance or private insurance.
· A larger number of people surveyed (one-third) said that lack of transportation had prevented them from getting their children immunized.
· Participation in the WIC program was strongly associated with higher immunization coverage compared to non-participants.
· Not a single child had a record of influenza immunization, in spite of the fact that 10 percent of children met the criteria for annual immunization against influenza by virtue of having a high-risk medical condition themselves and 28 percent by living in a household with someone with a high-risk medical condition.
· There were a number of variables that have been shown to be associated with childhood immunization coverage in other studies that were not found to be associated in this study.
· Information obtained about individual dwellings, water supply, wastewater management, and types of roads in the colonias that were visited suggests that substantial improvements have been made in recent years.
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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