Influence of social support on childhood vaccine uptake in a migrant community in Roatan, Honduras



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According to the World Health Organization, greater social support from family, friends, and community members is correlated with better health outcomes. In the migrant community of La Colonia on the island of Roatán, Honduras, most residents are lower-income, young families who emigrate from the mainland seeking better job and educational opportunities. In the process of migration, families typically lose social support networks and structures they previously had access to. In a study in 2016, our team found that in comparison to the rest of Roatan, children living in La Colonia had lower vaccination coverage. In the current study, we sought to examine the role of social support on childhood vaccine uptake in La Colonia. In summer 2018, we completed fifty surveys of mothers with young children living in La Colonia. The survey included standardized social support questions to evaluate linkages between self-reported social connectedness and vaccine uptake. In addition, two focus groups with mothers of young children living in La Colonia were conducted to understand the ways that mothers leverage social support networks and CHW interactions to access and provide healthcare. Vaccination uptake among young children in La Colonia was above 97% for all but one vaccine; however, we found that some mothers reported difficulty accessing vaccines related to a lack of social support. We did not find any statistically significant relationship between vaccine uptake and social support from our survey social support scale, likely due to high vaccine uptake and small sample size of children with accessible vaccine cards at the time of the survey (n=35). We also found that mothers view churches as an acceptable social apparatus for dissemination of health knowledge and community-based childhood interventions. These results suggest that building social support in migrant communities is important for uptake of preventive behaviors, particularly vaccines, although more research is needed to determine if a statistically significant relationship exists between social support and vaccine uptake. Churches could be leveraged as venues to offer interventions aimed at increasing vaccine uptake and community knowledge about benefits of vaccinations.





Watkins, Kathryn (2019). Influence of social support on childhood vaccine uptake in a migrant community in Roatan, Honduras. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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