STUDY ON BLACK, WHITE KIDS: Vaccine reduces medical care gap
BY DELTHIA RICKS
May 12, 2004
A vaccine that prevents pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections is reducing those invasive conditions among black children and closing a long-existing health care gap, public health experts report in a study to be released today.
Historically, the incidence of infections with the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae has been significantly higher in black children than in white. The microbe causes a range of illnesses from pneumonia to blood infections. Some infections can be lethal.
A study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention targeted children between 6 weeks and 23 months of age in seven states, putting an emphasis on black children. The idea was to determine if a disparity could be alleviated and several infectious disorders reduced.
The analysis, begun in 1998, demonstrated that something as simple as immunization can greatly impact public health in reducing disparities in medical care. Doctors administered a vaccine called Prevnar, approved for general use in 2000.
Before Prevnar, infections among black children were 3.3 times higher than the rate among white youngsters. By the end of the first round of the study in 2002, the rate of infection among black children was only 1.6 times higher.