How Poverty Affects Vaccination Rates

Last fall I pointed blog readers to my colleague Rachel Stone’s post on vaccination as an expression of neighborly love. Today, Rachel has a follow-up post of sorts, commenting on a Mother Jones article indicating that poverty and other family issues (such as working parents who struggle to get their kids to the doctor’s office during business hours) are significant factors in children going unvaccinated. I commend you to her post, as well as to an excellent new web site, Voices for Vaccines, that provides reliable, science-based information on vaccines. The Voices for Vaccines project is led by two parents and supported by a medical advisory council. I’ve had the privilege of talking with the two moms behind this project, Karen Ernst and Ashley Shelby, and have been looking for a chance to share their work. This seems like as good a time as any.

I am off to Chicago today to speak (and listen!) at the University of Chicago’s Second Annual Conference on Medicine and Religion. I will be drawing on the story I tell in my book, No Easy Choice, to highlight the ways in which reproductive medicine practitioners often provide excellent clinical care, but maintain a willful ignorance when it comes supporting patients as they grapple with the larger cultural, moral, and religious complexities of reproductive and genetic technologies. Posts will likely be sparse for the rest of the week, but I look forward to reporting on any good tidbits of wisdom from this conference!

On Assisted Suicide and Chronic Pain, Sex and Prayer, DNA and Ice Buckets: Top 10 Posts of 2014
14 Blog Posts from 2014 That You Need to Read
Why Even the Smallest Good Work is Worth Doing
Why I Believe Native American Mascots Should Go
About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.

  • Nicole Miheli Pitzer


    My sister (Mary Caler) emailed me your blog post. She knows that I am a big fan of vaccines, and she also thought I’d be interested in this post due to my work in Haiti. I help manage a clinic in a mountain region and our staff recently brought a tetanus vaccine program to the villages. Here is my own blog post about it…

    Thanks for this great information!

    • Ellen Painter Dollar

      Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for sharing your post and more important, for the work you are doing. I would like to do much more to promote the Voices for Vaccines movement and the ways in which a knowledge-driven approach to childhood vaccines can help improve health. Great to “meet” you…your sister is one of my favorite readers!

      • jhonnash

        Vaccines are so important in this day and age! No body should have to
        suffer because of disease such as tetanus or polio when there is
        medicine in place to stop it from happening in the first place!