More Than 1 in 10 Parents Disagree with Vaccine Recommendations

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More than 13% of parents disagree with recommended vaccine schedules and choose to vaccinate on an alternative schedule, according to an October 2011 study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Modern vaccinations offer protection to children and communities from serious communicable diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has devised a vaccine schedule that maximizes the chances of small children receiving vital vaccines at a beneficial time in their lives. Routine pediatric exams allow small children and their parents to meet with their pediatric providers frequently. At these visits, pediatricians monitor children’s growth and development, answer parents’ questions and administer appropriate vaccinations. However, many parents question which vaccines their children should receive and when they should receive these immunizations.

Researchers surveyed 738 parents with children between the ages of six months to six years old. Of these parents, 13% indicated that they did not follow the recommended vaccination schedule and chose to delay or even refuse certain vaccinations. Half of these parents refused specific vaccinations and half admitted they delayed some immunizations until their children were older. Approximately 17% of the parents reported that they did not follow the recommended vaccination schedule refused to allow their children to receive any immunization at all.

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Nearly one in three parents who did not follow the recommended schedule reported that they initially followed their pediatricians’ advice for vaccinations early on, but then changed how and when they chose to vaccinate their children. Parents who followed the recommendations to vaccinate their children on time expressed concern that delaying vaccinations is safer. One in five parents who chose to vaccinate on time believe that the recommended vaccination schedule is not ideal.

Parents who refuse to follow the recommended vaccination schedule do so for a variety of reasons. Vaccine safety is a controversial topic in some parenting circles, and some parents fear a connection between immunizations and autism. Many families in the United States have not witnessed disease epidemics that killed and disabled thousands of people. Effective vaccination programs facilitate herd immunity, which reduces the chance of community-wide epidemics even if a small group of individuals have not been fully immunized. Some families choose to not vaccinate due to strong religious or personal beliefs.

Despite the progress vaccination programs have made toward eradicating significant communicable diseases, non-vaccinated individuals are at risk of developing these illnesses. Parents should discuss which vaccines are available and recommended for their children with their pediatricians.

"Pediatrics"; Alternative Vaccination Schedule Preferences Among Parents of Young Children; October 3, 2011
CDC; Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years --- United States, 2010

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