A new study conducted by Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that parents who take advantage of paid family leave time after their newborn has arrived are more likely to have their baby vaccinated on time compared to families who do not take paid family leave.
According to Science Daily, the university's study found that the effect is stronger on families who are living below the poverty line.
Solomon Polacheck, professor of economics at Binghamton University said that there are currently many parents who choose not to vaccinate their children within the recommended scheduled times, which can be extremely dangerous for babies. The recommended scheduled times for vaccinations are actually quite critical for infants' wellbeing and overall health.
California was the first state to start a Paid Family Leave (PFL) policy which allows private-sector employees up to six weeks off with partial-wage compensation to care for a newborn baby. Not only does this allow for parents to bond with their new baby and vice versa, help transition into the caregiver role, settle the baby into the home but it also helps to establish vaccine and other vital appointments for the newborn.
Binghamton University PhD student Agnitra Roy Choudhury participated in this study and collected data from the National Immunization Survey regarding child vaccination rates between 19 and 35 months old.
"The research finds that paid family leave increases the chance an infant will be inoculated for the second HepB injection by over 5 percent relative to states not implementing paid family leave, and for the DTP injection by about 1.5 percent," said Polachek.
He went on to mention that the ripple effects are ever larger for less fortunate families according to the study because these families might be far less likely to have the opportunity to access paid family leave from their jobs in the first place.
Along with the stress of having a newborn and all of the new financial pressures, taking the time to make sure that vaccination appointments are made right on time might not be the absolute first priority for frazzled new parents who are working hard to make ends meet.
The research finds that families who are able to take advantage of paid family leave are more like to vaccinate their infants on time which in turn ensures the future health of their child. The study also found that vaccines can have positive outcomes in unexpected ways. In several cases in the data that Polachek studied, he found that attendance in school as well as earning power in careers and overall health was positively affected.
"Poor school attendance and less early childhood learning can have consequences regarding the widening earnings distribution," said Polachek. "Paid family leave might be a viable national policy if it mitigates these detrimental effects."