Educational Attainment

Educational Attainment is the term commonly used to refer to the number of years of schooling completed. This sub-topic contains evidence that better health through prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases is associated with higher educational attainment benefiting individuals and society.

5 Key Concepts

Key Evidence: The highly contagious varicella infections (chicken pox) cause children, on average, to miss 9 days of school. A highly effective varicella vaccine was introduced in the US in the mid-1990s.

From the VoICE editors: This study was conducted in 1987 in the US.

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Key Evidence: In a study of school-based influenza vaccination in Los Angeles County, California, children who were vaccinated missed significantly fewer days of school than children who were not (2.8 vs. 4.3 per 100 school days).

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Key Evidence: In a study of children in a Brazilian shantytown, researchers found that the greater the number of episodes of persistent diarrhea before age two, the more delayed a child was in terms of school readiness. Overall, each episode of diarrhea delayed a child’s starting school by 0.7 months. Likewise, 6-10 years later, increasing episodes of diarrhea before age two predicted delays in age-appropriate educational attainment.

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Key Evidence: This study follows up on a 1974 randomized trial of tetanus and cholera vaccine administered to mothers in Bangladesh. At the time of follow up in 1996, there was a clear pattern of increased educational attainment among children whose mothers received tetanus vaccine during pregnancy. This pattern was significant for the group of children born to vaccinated mothers with very low levels of education.

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Key Evidence: A 2019 analysis of survey data from school aged children in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam shows that children vaccinated against measles achieved 0.2 - 0.3 years of additional schooling compared to children who did not receive the measles vaccine.

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Key Evidence: For every 6 children vaccinated against measles in a poor, largely rural community in South Africa, one additional grade of schooling was achieved.

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Key Evidence: A study of the staggered roll-out of measles vaccination in Matlab, Bangladesh, which started in the early 1980s, found that boys vaccinated before 12 months of age were 7.4% more likely to be enrolled in school than boys who were never vaccinated or vaccinated later in childhood, while measles vaccination had no effect on girls' enrolment in school.

From the VoICE editors: This may suggest that poor health, resulting from complications of measles that can lead to deficits in physical and cognitive development, affected schooling decisions for boys in Bangladesh, but not for girls.

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