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xChildhood immunization is an evidence-based practice implemented to control specific diseases and reduce outbreaks that can have far-reaching impacts on young individuals. In the United States, there are various programs and policies put in place to ensure that children below the age of 18 receive timely vaccines and social support. Unfortunately, certain issues and gaps affect the availability of such medical services to different individuals in this country. The purpose of this research paper is to discuss the disparities in immunization as a major social challenge impacting families and children in the United States.
Problem Identification and Statistics
The provision of vaccination is a powerful initiative that many countries consider to improve the health outcomes of children and ensure that they record positive health outcomes. This practice reduces the possibility of disease outbreaks in both the developed and developing nations. Unfortunately, current statistics reveal that not all children in this country have access to timely and appropriate immunizations. This means that individuals who do not have access to such services are usually at risk of developing various medical complications or illnesses (Hermann, Featherstone, Russell, & MacDonald, 2019). These are various attributes that trigger this problem, such as ineffective welfare programs and disparities in healthcare.
Many parents and guardians are encouraged to ensure that their children receive immunizations for various diseases before attaining the age of 35 months. A study by Hill, Elam-Evans, Yankey, Singleton, & King (2017) revealed that the national average for childhood immunization was around 90 percent for poliovirus in children. Similarly, Olive, Hotez, Damania, and Nolan (2018) observed that 91.9 percent of all-American children received timely vaccines for various conditions, including mumps, measles, varicella, and rubella. Additionally, the coverage for African American and Latino children below 40 months were lower than the national average at 87 and 88 percent respectively (Hill et al., 2017). Individuals under Child Welfare programs were also impacted negatively by this social health problem. Despite these differences and inequalities, Olive et al. (2018) indicate that vaccination coverage and availability in this country has still remained quite high in urban areas and cities.
Although these statistics reveal that America has managed to record positive gains in its child welfare programs, there are still some gaps that make it impossible for a small percentage of young individuals to lead high-quality lives. Some conditions have not received the required attention when it comes to the question of vaccination, such as Hepatitis A and B and varicella (Hill et al., 2017). Other critical factors undermining the availability of immunizations among American children include insurance coverage, poverty levels, neighborhoods, parents’ education attainment, and child welfare programs.
Societal Values: Contributing Factors
The nature and complexity of this social problem reflect various values and norms in different American communities. For instance, some religious groups discourage their followers to avoid vaccines because they can have detrimental effects are inappropriate with accordance to the promoted beliefs. Olive et al. (2018) use the example of disease outbreaks and deformities to explain why many parents ensure that their children do not receive any vaccine. On the other hand, the value of health and peace has emerged to encourage more members of society to select various immunizations in order to overcome the challenges associated with various diseases. Clinical officers, community health nurses, and social workers consider the concepts of influence and enlightenment to guide and encourage more people to have their children immunized. Such values explain why some American children lack access to timely vaccinations.
There are specific factors that have contributed to this social problem. Firstly, many stakeholders continue to present their views regarding the potential side effects associated with various vaccines. This is the case since media outlets have in the past reported various cases of disabilities and mental illnesses associated with various immunizations. This reason explains why many parents tend to ask numerous questions regarding the safety of various vaccines before accepting them (Immunization State Action, 2018). Secondly, some people tend to argue that their children should not be forced to get numerous injections since they might be harmful.
Thirdly, some religious grounds or faiths discourage their followers from engaging in such medical practices. This means that such individuals will argue that they are unsafe. Fourthly, the absence of adequate resources and effective healthcare systems make it impossible for many children to receive appropriate vaccinations. Fifthly, the lack of knowledge and inability to reserve appointments explain many children fail to receive the intended immunizations (Hermann et al., 2019). Poverty and the absence of insurance coverage reduce the number of young individuals who have access to various vaccines.
The government’s inability to resolve this problem has not benefited many groups or populations. This is true since the health challenge affects children from all racial backgrounds, thereby making it impossible for them to record positive medical outcomes. However, Olive et al. (2018) indicate that some medical professionals usually capitalize on this gap to provide costly immunizations to more children in rural or underserved regions. An evidence-based model is, therefore, needed to address this predicament and maximize the percentage of children who have access to timely and appropriate vaccines.
Historical Analysis and Laws
The issue of child immunization in the United States is something that many stakeholders, health professionals, and policymakers have addressed for many years. Before 1950, vaccinations targeting children below 15 years of age were simple and available to different citizen (Immunization State Action, 2018). However, only a small number of diseases were considered during the time, such as tetanus, diphtheria, and smallpox (Olive et al., 2018). The existing regulations required that all potential beneficiaries receive such services from private clinics or practitioners. The percentage of coverage during the 1950s remained quite low since all parents were required to pay for such services (Immunization State Action, 2018). The number of underage individuals managed to get free vaccines from local medical institutions.
In 1955, the government decided to introduce the polio vaccine (IPV). This move was aimed at addressing the challenges associated with this condition and ensuring that more American children recorded positive health outcomes (Immunization State Action, 2018). The government presented adequate funds to ensure that all states supported local agencies and institutors to administer IPV to the greatest number of children. Section 317 emerged in the 1960s to support the provision of immunizations to different individuals (Ventola, 2016). By 1980, half of the country’s children were able to receive immunization from private providers while the remaining percentage accessed them from public hospitals (Ventola, 2016). The increasing costs associated with such services in 1990 made it impossible for many children to record positive health results. From this period, American states went further to implement new laws and policies to ensure that all children joining various schools had received appropriate immunizations. This was catalyzed by the measles outbreak recorded between 1989 and 1991 (Ventola, 2016). The passage of the Vaccines for Children Act (VFC) would ensure that children had access to such services.
Currently, America lacks federal laws requiring children to receive mandatory vaccines. However, all states have presented diverse policies that target children in different public learning institutions as of July 2018 (Immunization State Action, 2018). This means that all learners below the age of 16 receive timely vaccines for these conditions: polio, measles, pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus (Immunization State Action, 2018). Some states do not have mandatory immunization laws for hepatitis B and rubella. Additionally, several programs have emerged in an attempt to increase the percentage of children who have access to immunizations in this country. The VFC has remained the main national law that ensures that more communities in the United States get the right immunizations in a timely manner (Immunization State Action, 2018). This imitative has delivered positive results by minimizing disparities in this country. However, maximum coverage or access to vaccination services is yet to be realized.
From the above discussion, it is evident that most of the recent policies and laws have managed to address the immunization problem in the United States. From the 1950s to the 1980s, many children were unable to receive high-quality and timely immunizations due to the absence of supportive systems and programs (Hill et al., 2017). These gaps played a role in the outbreak recorded in 1989 (Hill et al., 2017). This issue forced states and the federal government to propose new legislation to ensure that all children joining public schools had access to the required vaccines. These developments and gains explain why around 90 percent of this country’s children receive timely vaccines for major illnesses or diseases (Hill et al., 2017). My personal stand on some of these laws is that they are effective and have continued to deliver positive results.
However, the most important thing is making sure that no child dies or develops deformity due to an illness that could have been prevented through effective immunization. This gap explains why the latest laws are incapable of having a positive impact on child welfare. This country will achieve such a goal if it considers the current challenges that make it impossible for different children to get adequate and timely immunizations in their respective communities (Ventola, 2016). These issues call for superior programs and initiatives that can encourage different stakeholders to meet the health needs of the greatest percentage of American children.
Although the VFC has been in effect for a few decades, it has managed to address the complexity and nature of this childhood problem. This is true since stakeholders consider most of the common diseases affecting the global population when developing the most appropriate immunization guidelines (Olive et al., 2018). Similarly, all states have managed to propose and implement new laws in accordance with the VFC to reduce disparities and ensure that more underage individuals are capable of overcoming the predicaments associated with various illnesses.
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Despite such gains, there is overwhelming evidence to support the unique gaps and differences that exist in this country. For instance, around 10 percent of American children have been unable to receive vaccines for most of the targeted illnesses (Hermann et al., 2019). Such individuals remain at risk for developing such disease and recording the complications associated with them. This gap means that the entire population is exposed to the dangers of different conditions. With such issues, chances are high that America might not address the targeted illnesses and support the health needs of its citizens.
Effectiveness of Current Policies and Recommendations
The current statistics reveal that the United States has managed to record positive results in the area of childhood immunization. This achievement has been possible due to the presence of effective laws and policies that are implemented to increase the percentage of citizens who have access to timely immunizations. This is the case since many parents and guardians in urban areas and rural areas can afford immunization services in this country (Hill et al., 2017). However, a new model or policy will be essential to maximize coverage to over 99 percent. This objective will be essential since many people in child welfare organizations and those living in poverty find it hard to get timely immunizations. The presentation of superior laws or programs will mitigate this challenge and empower more individuals in different parts of the country.
My proposal is for the government to consider new additions to the current procedures and policies. The outstanding option is to expand all programs implemented to provide vaccines to different children. Hermann et al. (2019) argue that the country can identify evidence-based measures to ensure that all children in private learning instructions have access to vaccines. Another consideration is strengthening the current strategies by engaging individuals from specific religious groups that do not embrace such immunizations. Similarly, new campaigns and training sessions can be essential and capable of educating and encouraging more American citizens to appreciate the importance of vaccines and how they can transform the experiences of all children.
These suggestions are capable of impacting different parts of society and addressing existing issues. For example, the introduction of educational programs can empower more people to appreciate other evidence-based practices, such as washing hands with soap and reporting disease outbreaks. Child welfare workers will also be in a position to deliver their services in a timely manner and more efficiently. Their activities will be simplified and eventually ensure that this country’s health sector records positive gains. The government will not have to stretch its budgetary allocations for health in the future since these suggestions will reduce disease outbreaks and maximize the experiences of more citizens (Ventola, 2016). The projected achievements and gains explain why the government should consider the current state of immunizations and implement the outlined recommendations. The ultimate objective is to ensure that more children receive the right immunizations and eventually pursue their unique aims in life.
The completed research study has revealed that America has some challenges in the fields of health care and social services. Although the findings have indicated that many children can access vaccines for different diseases, some disparities still exist that make it impossible for the targeted beneficiaries to record positive health outcomes. Most of the current state laws encourage parents to support the provision of such services to their children. The paper has gone further to identify evidence-based recommendations that the government should implement to minimize the outlined gaps and make it possible for the greatest number of young individuals in this country to achieve their potential.
Hermann, J. S., Featherstone, R. M., Russell, M. L., & MacDonald, S. E. (2019). Immunization coverage of children in care of the child welfare system in high-income countries: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 56(2), e55-e63. Web.
Hill, H. A., Elam-Evans, L. D., Yankey, D., Singleton, J. A., & King, Y. (2017). Vaccination coverage among children aged 19–35 months – United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(43), 1171-1177. Web.
Immunization State Action. (2018). State information. Web.
Olive, J. K., Hotez, P. J., Damania, A., & Nolan, M. S. (2018). The state of the antivaccine movement in the United States: A focused examination of nonmedical exemptions in states and counties. PLOS Medicine, 15(7), e1002616. Web.
Ventola, C. L. (2016). Immunization in the United States: Recommendations, barriers, and measures to improve compliance. Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 41(7), 426-436.