Her research started out as a way to show that having a single-payer health system, like Tricare, would increase the odds of a child being completely up to date on his vaccines. Instead she found the opposite.
Dr. Angela Dunn, a researcher out of California, examined the immunization rates of military kids as reported through a National Institute of Science (NIS) data set from 2012, according to this story.
That data showed that about 28 percent of military kids they examined weren't recorded as up to date on vaccines -- more than a quarter of their sample of 3,421 military children aged 19 months to 3 years old. Instead of showing that being in a system like Tricare would mean more consistency with vaccines, the study showed that those in the Tricare system are potenally at greater risk.
It's true -- if those numbers tell the whole story, that's a startling statistic and huge health risk -- especially if extrapolated to the larger military population.
But but of course they do not. And the researchers themselves were quick to point out that the "missing" vaccines could simply be related to lost records.
"The lack of a military-wide childhood immunization registry and incomplete documentation of vaccinations could contribute to the lower vaccination coverage rates seen in this study," the study says.
I'm no researcher. But I can tell you from my own life that health records don't always follow you through the military health care system the way they are supposed to -- not for your kids, not for yourself, not for anyone. You know it's true, too. Unless you hand carry them, there's no way to make sure anyone's health is being correctly documented.
Which is why it's important to look at exactly how the data on which this study was based was collected. According to the study, this data was based on the input of parents and the records held be a primary care provider that they identified. That person inputted into the study the officials records they had about vaccines.
So let's say you're just like me and your kids' records have never followed you a day of their lives. But you hand carry to every duty station a vaccine chart. That's all you've got. Now let's say you lose it during your move. All of the sudden your kid? Not "officially" up to date on vaccines.
You can imagine this problem in 100 different ways. We know from life experience that records, especially when it comes to anything to do with the military, don't tell anywhere near the whole story.
What's your guess? That military kids are under vaccinated -- or that records are the problem?