Skipping Vaccines for Children
Written by Faith Anderson on October 3, 2011
Concerns about Vaccinations Delay Recommended Shots
The nationally representative online survey of approximately 750 parents of children age six and younger was conducted last year, and results were recently released online in the journal Pediatrics. The results were in line with a larger federal survey released last month, showing at least one in ten toddlers and preschoolers lagged on vaccines that included chickenpox and the measles-mumps-rubella combination shots. According to the survey, worries about vaccine safety were common even among parents whose kids were fully vaccinated; about one in five of that group said they think delaying shots is safer than abiding by the recommended schedule.
Dr. Amanda Dempsey, author of the Pediatrics study, pediatrician, and researcher at the University of Michigan, said concerns about vaccinations are fueled by erroneous information online and media reports that sensationalize vaccine misconceptions. This includes the persistent belief among some parents about a potential link between vaccines and autism, despite scientific evidence disproving this theory. Some parents also dismiss the severity of vaccine-preventable diseases because they have never seen a child seriously ill with one of those illnesses. Unfortunately, diseases like flu and whooping cough can be deadly, especially in infants, according to Dr. Buddy Creech, associate director of Vanderbilt University’s Vaccine Research Program. “From being someone in the trenches seeing children die every year from influenza and its complications…I would not do a single thing to risk the health of my kids,” he said.
Seeking Accurate Information about Vaccinations is Imperative
Kandace O’Neill, mother of two in Lakeville, Minnesota, admittedly doesn’t follow federal vaccine advice. Her five-year-old son has received no vaccinations since he turned one, and her 7-month-old daughter has had none of the recommended shots. O’Neill, like many other parents, believe that parents, not doctors or schools, should make medical decisions for their children. Dr. Larry Pickering, an infectious disease specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this new survey is important, indicating that doctors need to do a better job of communicating vaccine information to parents. While Pickering supports the idea of parents being actively involved in their children’s medical care, he cautions that “they need to be fully informed about the risks and benefits of vaccines and need to obtain the information from a valid source.”