Objective. To identify reservoirs ofHaemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) pharyngeal carriage and assess barriers to vaccination among 2 Amish communities in Pennsylvania.
Methods. We investigated recent cases, performed community surveys for Hib vaccination coverage and pharyngeal carriage, and administered a questionnaire assessing vaccination knowledge and attitudes to 298 members of 2 Amish communities (A and B) in Pennsylvania and, as a comparison group, 136 non-Amish family members who participated in state immunization clinics. From December 1999 to February 2000, 8 cases of invasive Hib disease occurred among children who were 5 years of age or younger in Pennsylvania. Six of the case-patients were from Amish communities. None of the children had been vaccinated.
Results. Among children who were 5 years of age or younger, Hib vaccine coverage was low in the 2 Amish communities: A (9 [28%] of 32) and B (3 [7%] of 41) compared with the non-Amish group (19 [95%] of 20). Hib carriage prevalence was higher in both Amish communities than in the non-Amish group (A: 3%; B: 8%; non-Amish: 0%). More households in community B had 1 or more Hib carriers than in community A (8 [28%] of 29 vs 3 [9%] of 32). Among Amish parents who did not vaccinate their children, only 25% (13 of 51) identified either religious or philosophical objections as a factor; 51% (26 of 51) reported that vaccinating was not a priority compared with other activities of daily life. Seventy-three percent (36 of 49) would vaccinate their children if vaccination were offered locally.
Conclusions. Undervaccinated communities in the United States still exist and allow circulation of Hib strains, resulting in disease among susceptible children. Identification of undervaccinated populations, such as the Amish, and targeted education and vaccination campaigns are essential to achieving elimination of Hib disease.
- Received April 3, 2001.
- Accepted June 7, 2001.
- Copyright © 2001 American Academy of Pediatrics