Study shows school-based health centers boost vaccination rates

New research from the University of Colorado School of Medicine shows that school-based health centers are highly effective in delivering comprehensive care, especially vaccines to adolescents.

The study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, highlights the value of a `captive audience' in a school setting where students can be easily reminded to get recommended vaccinations.

"School-based can provide comprehensive care to children and who are hard to reach," said CU School of Medicine professor of pediatrics Allison Kempe, MD, MPH, and lead author of the study. "I think it's a very important model especially in underserved and low income areas. School-based health centers are not prevalent across the United States but I think they should be."

Kempe, director of the Children's Outcomes Research Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, said the scope of immunizations for adolescents has expanded markedly over the last few years, prompting discussions about a platform of for this population similar to those given to infants.

Immunizations recommended for adolescents include the meningococcal conjugate vaccine; tetanus-diptheria-acellular pertussis vaccine and the (HPV) vaccine.

"While new vaccines targeted for adolescents certainly hold great promise, they also face certain challenges," Kempe said. "Adolescents are an age group that is less likely to access and only 9 percent of all health care visits by adolescents are for ."

And then there are issues of parental consent, lack of health insurance, missed chances for vaccinations during routine doctor visits and scattering of among multiple providers.

Kempe and her fellow researchers, funded by the Centers for Disease Control, studied vaccination outcomes among sixth graders at four school-based health centers at Denver area schools.

They did a demonstration study of 265 females needing at least one vaccine. All of them received reminders to get their immunizations. Researchers did a second study that was a randomized controlled trial of 264 males needing vaccines. In that study, half of the males received reminders, calls or notes to get immunizations and half received their usual care.

After six months, 77 percent of females had received at least one vaccine and 45 percent got all the necessary immunizations. The randomized controlled trial of males found that 66 percent of those getting reminders had received at least one vaccine and 59 percent had obtained all study vaccines compared to 45 percent and 36 percent respectively in the control group.

"These data reinforce the notion that school-based health centers are very valuable in providing health care to kids who are uninsured, come from poor backgrounds or are adolescents," said Kempe. "Our study shows how well these kinds of reminders work in school. They are effective, easy and cheap."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Are our schools damaging children's eyes?

date Mar 24, 2015

Shockingly, research has shown a dramatic increase in the number of students leaving secondary school with short-sightedness, or myopia, and a new study published in the Journal Perspectives in Public Health, published by SAG ...

Vitamin D vital for gene expression in developing brains

date Mar 24, 2015

Vitamin D deficiency in mothers leading up to and during pregnancy has fundamental consequences for their offspring's brain development, researchers from University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids ...

Chef-enhanced school meals increase healthy food consumption

date Mar 23, 2015

Schools collaborating with a professionally trained chef to improve the taste of healthy meals significantly increased students' fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.