Ensuring students get their booster shots can help protect not just later health, but their educational achievement, too, according to a University of Missouri study released at the American Economic Association’s annual conference in San Diego this month.
The study tracks the effects of state vaccination requirements for common childhood diseases, including measles, pertussis (also known as whooping cough), and diptheria, through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national disease-surveillance system.
Dara N. Lee, an assistant economics professor at the university, analyzed both child-mortality and health rates and years of schooling for students from the 1960s through the early 1980s, before and after states began to require proof of immunization before children could start school.
“It seems like these mandatory-vaccination laws were very effective in lowering morbidity for these childhood diseases,” she said. By contrast, diseases not included in those initial vaccination laws, such as hepatitis and chicken pox, saw no significant decrease during the same time.
Ms. Lee found that mandatory-vaccination laws increased students’ likelihood of graduating from high school by 1.9 percentage points and increased the average educational attainment by 1.2 years.
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as Vaccinations