Do Socioeconomic Factors Influence Texans’ Decision to Get Vaccinated? – A cartographic Approach

Texas has one of the highest vaccination rates for childhood diseases overall, 97.4%, according to CDC. But the number of children not vaccinated because of their parents’ “personal beliefs”—as opposed to medical reasons—has risen since 2003, when such exemptions were introduced, to more than 44,000 so far in 2017 according to CDC. The 4:3:1:3:3:1:4 series is an overall measure that encompasses many vaccines that are recommended for children. Various demographic factors (sex, gender, race, availability of commercial health insurance) influence the decision to get vaccinated, were looked at.

Gis steps

The county-level data on the socioeconomic factors were obtained from US Census Bureau (American Factfinder). The health insurance data was obtained from Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE). The vaccination rates were obtained from Texas Immunization registry through DSHS. The data was cleaned and geocoded to be analyzed in ArcGIS to produce maps as shown in Figure 1. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to analyze the relationship between vaccination rates and independent variable.Capture2.PNG The non-vaccination rates are higher around the major cities of Dallas, Austin-San Antonio, Houston and some northwest Texas counties. Population density has a positive correlation with the non-vaccination rate. Other demographic factors have a positive correlation in certain counties as opposed to others.
Source: American FactFinderTexas Immunisation RegistryThe limitation on the immunization data is it being an optional registry so it would not be accurate to run statistics off this information to estimate an immunization rate. In future, it is productive to expand this concept to use regression analysis to try to find the odds of the relationship expressed in the maps and to find if there is a significant association.

Power of GIS – Hotspot Analysis

Hotspot analysis is a way fo finding the geographical areas with high and also low (called the cold spots) distribution of the specific variable. The below map shows the hotspot analysis of the distribution of non- vaccination rates in Texas. It is obvious the high non-vaccination rates are around central Texas which geographically correlates with San Antonio and Austin. The cold spots are interesting that they are more around the counties bordering Mexico.

                            Hotspot Analysis of  Unvaccinated Rates in Texas 2016


The above map was created using data from DSHS Texas based on their report on vaccination among school children. The analysis is usually done to raise the research question around the variable based on its pattern of distribution.

In this map specifically, the area of interest is the cold spots which are the counties bordering Mexico. We expect more people not getting vaccinated because of cultural and socioeconomic factors. Since it is otherwise, it gets interesting to analyze the phenomenon. One more fact to be taken into consideration is maybe the unvaccination rates can be underreported because of a high immigrant population around the counties.


GIS – The power of deduction just not representative observation

GIS is a powerful tool to represent straight out facts visually. But also a tool that can be used to rise new questions. The application is particularly useful in mixed method approach of a research study.

For example, CDC produced the following data and map on the rates of HIV diagnosis among adults and adolescents.


The maps show the distribution of new HIV cases being higher in the west, the northeast and the south. It shows states of Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Louisiana, and DC are among the top five. These facts among few other obvious ones show the observatory power of maps.

The map also leads to so many research questions :

  • Is there a cultural factor that influences high rates in Nevada, given it has a very indigenous cultural makeup?
  • What do Alabama and Mississippi do better to control the rates, when they are the geographical adjacents to LA and GA.
  • Are there specific policies in DC that help people with HIV lead a better life – policies that help them deal with the stigma.

The are few questions among many that the map brings out.

Hence GIS can be used to represent data but also can be used as a tool to form research questions in mixed method analysis.


Interested in Learning GIS?

Always wanted to learn GIS  but never found an opportunity? You’re in luck! Classes are being offered by by the Wayne County Assessor’s Office and the Wayne County/Richmond Geographic Information System Interlocal in Richmond, IN and Laredo Community College and Del Mar College in Laredo, TX. The separate programs are aimed for the public to learn more about GIS technology.

Richmond, IN area: Read the full article here and check out the site for more details.

Laredo, TX area: Read the full article here and call LCC Continuing Education Department at 956-721-5374 if you are interested.

Juhi Mawla, Intern,