One in 10 parents skip, delay vaccinations for kids

More than one in 10 parents uses a vaccination schedule for their children other than the one recommended by the federal government, including delaying some shots and refusing others altogether, according to a study in Pediatrics.

CDC recommends that children ages six and younger receive 14 different vaccinations, including the measles, mumps, and rubella shot, and vaccines to protect against chicken pox, hepatitis, influenza, whooping cough, and others.

For the study, researchers conducted an Internet survey of 748 parents of kids between age six months and six years. Of those, 13% of parents said they followed an "alternative" vaccination schedule, which included delaying or refusing certain shots because of safety concerns, the researchers noted.

Further, concerns regarding vaccine safety were common even among parents whose children were fully vaccinated, with 28% stating that they think delaying or spacing out shots is safer than the schedule recommended by CDC.

The researchers said they are concerned that more parents might skip or delay vaccines in the future, which dramatically increases the risk of illness. According to background research cited in the study, children whose parents opt out of one or more vaccines are 22 times more likely to contract measles and nearly six times more likely to contract whooping cough.

Study author Amanda Dempsey, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan, said vaccine skepticism is fueled by flawed information obtained on the Internet and media reports that sensationalize these misconceptions, including the erroneous belief that vaccines cause autism. In addition, some parents doubt the severity of vaccine-preventable diseases (Pittman, Reuters, 10/3; Szabo, USA Today, 10/2; Tanner, AP/Washington Post, 10/3).

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