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Examining the Relationship between Vaccine Utilization and Educational Attainment in Southeast Los Angeles

Examining the Relationship between Vaccine Utilization and Educational Attainment in Southeast Los Angeles

Dhaulakhandi, H., Kodavatikanti, A., Elhaija, A., Alam, U.

Affiliation: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Published: April 25, 2024


Abstract: The Southeast Los Angeles cities of Maywood and Bell have educational attainment (bachelor’s degree or higher) rates of 8.7% and 8.8%, respectively, relative to California’s state average of 37.0% (U.S. Census Bureau 2022). The goal of this study is to evaluate the relationship between educational attainment and vaccine utilization in Southeast Los Angeles to inform future policies aimed at improving long-term health outcomes. For this study, the International Collegiate Health Initiative (ICHI), a 501(c)-3 nonprofit focused on providing multicultural low-income, immigrant, and refugee populations with educational, nutritional, and medical health services, conducted extensive surveying of the patient population at its mobile community health clinic events at the Maywood YMCA and the Bell Community Health Center. The data reveals significant differences in vaccine use between college- and non-college-educated individuals. 68.75% of college-educated respondents reported receiving a COVID-19 booster shot, whereas 56.82% of non-college-educated respondents reported the same. Similarly, college-educated respondents had a 62.5% flu vaccination rate in the 2022 flu season, compared to 47.7% for non-college-educated respondents. The trend of college attendees being more likely to use vaccine services than non-college attendees is corroborated by a longitudinal study of Wisconsin high school graduates. This study determined that college attendance was correlated with higher probability of vaccine utilization in general, and increased flu shot usage in particular (Fletcher & Frisvold, 2009). The study also indicates that there is causation, rather than simply correlation, between increased college attendance and use of vaccines. Moreover, an empirical assessment of OECD countries for the period 1995–2015 found that well-educated adults have better health relative to adults who are less-educated (​​Raghupathi & ​​Raghupathi, 2020). This underscores the need to support increased educational attainment in underserved communities in order to increase vaccination rates in the United States.

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