More than one in 10 parents of young children use an “alternative” vaccination schedule for their children, rather than following the schedule recommended by reputable bodies like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to a survey released today (10/3/11).
Researchers say the study indicates parents aren’t convinced about the safety of having their children vaccinated at recommended times, and suggests a disturbing trend where gaps in vaccine coverage lead to increases in preventable disease outbreaks. Among parents using an alternative schedule, 30% said they switched from the recommended vaccination schedule because the alternative “seemed safer.” And a quarter of the parents who were following the regular schedule said they also believed that delaying vaccinations was safer.
The survey, conducted by researchers from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan in May 2010, involved 771 parents of children ages 6 months to 6 years. Among these parents:
• 13% reported deviating from the recommended vaccine schedule
• 2% refused all vaccines for their children
• 41% of those using an alternative said they had decided on their child’s vaccine schedule themselves
• 15% of those using an alternative said they followed a schedule suggested by a friend
• 8% of those using an alternative used a well-know schedule such as the one developed by Dr. Bob Sears
The vaccines most commonly delayed by these parents were the measles-mumps-rubella (45%) and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (43%) vaccines. The research was published online ahead of print in the journal Pediatrics.
Parents can find the CDCs recommended vaccine schedule online at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/ and the American Academy of Pediatrics vaccine schedule at www.aap.org/immunization/izschedule.html.