COLORADO – While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – which publishes Pediatrics recommend that children be given several shots of vaccines during the first years of life to protect against diseases, many parents have been forcing doctors to do otherwise.
Leading the study, Dr. Allison Kempe of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, found that while 2-3% of parents refuse vaccinating their children, nearly 1 in 5 have urged doctors to postpone vaccinating their children, or just spread out the shots over a period of time.
Facts emerged that these parents are afraid of overloading their babies’ systems with vaccines, or just fear some other things personal to them. However, doctors end up agreeing to spread out the vaccine shots even though they are aware this is against the recommended scientific advice. According to Kempe, this development shows that “there is an increasing number of parents asking to deviate from the schedule in other ways.”
In collaboration with colleagues and officials of CDC, Kempe sent out 815 surveys to family doctors and pediatricians across the US in 2012, and got back 534 responses. Analyzing the responses, she found that 93% of doctors claim that at least one parent had asked to space out the shots of their children, and 21% of those doctors said a minimum of 10% families have made such request.
“I was surprised by over 20 percent of doctors saying 10 percent or more of their families (had asked) to spread out vaccines,” Kempe said in the face of the fact that the AAP stated vaccine schedules are designed to work best with children’s immune systems and protect them from diseases.
Many doctors know it is not ideal, but they still agree with parents to spread out their children’s vaccine shots. Some also report educating parents against it.
“A lot of them feel what they’re doing isn’t making a difference,” Kempe said. “I am not convinced that we have the right methods to counter this.”
To get around this problem, Kempe advised that the media need to do more at sensitizing the public, while collaborating with the public and health departments; and that parents should be educated when they come for antenatal sessions.
“It can’t all fall on the primary care doctors’ backs,” Kempe said. “It’s too big and too time consuming of an issue.”