DHEC Fail: SC Health Disparities
Editorial Submitted by Board Member, Julianna Rhodes
The 2022-23 flu season projections are bleak, with the CDC already reporting early flu activity in the southeast. The CDC and AAP recommend children receive flu vaccines to prevent severe illness and interruptions to school attendance. Flu spreads in the school setting and children with chronic conditions are especially at risk for complications, including the vulnerable adults they return home to. School vaccine clinics, however, can effectively prevent flu transmission.
It is difficult to grasp the prevalence of health disparities among children.
The AAP’s policy statement, Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children 2022-2023, reports the flu vaccine rate is historically lower in Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaskan Natives. DHEC also acknowledges persistent health disparities in its April 2022 declaration to partner with community leaders to decrease inequities. DHEC further states that access to quality preventive care plays a role in health disparities.
It is with great disappointment to learn DHEC chose to conduct a flu clinic for a private school, while leaving many public schools without clinics.
DHEC did not have the workforce to offer flu vaccines to all public students, yet it prioritized efforts in administering vaccines to private school students. DHEC’s mission to address disparities was not put in action as they did not align to improve immunization rates for underserved children in public schools. It is unfortunate DHEC did not take the opportunity they had to truly fight health disparities.
Quality health care supports a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development, & aids in their ability to reach full potential. Health Fund for Children will financially assist children to receive much-needed health care.