The Oregon Health Authority recently did a study that reveals more parents in the Portland area are putting their kids on "shot-limiting" schedules. Under shot-limiting, vaccinations are delayed for various reasons. However, the study, published in Pediatrics, found that most of those kids never get caught up.
Although the study didn’t identify a specific reason for the numbers, the researchers said parents may delay or miss vaccinations because they don’t want their children to be in pain, or because they don’t want their kids to have too many shots all at once, or because they question whether vaccines are really necessary. The researchers said that delaying shots not only meant not getting vaccines on time, but that many shot-limiting children missed certain vaccines altogether.This appears to back up research that suggests a large number of parents across the country are inclined to delay or limit vaccines. It's a dangerous trend, especially since there have been spikes in diseases that are entirely preventable by vaccines. California and Washington recently declared outbreaks of whooping cough, and other states have reported increases in mumps and measles.
“It’s easy for a baby on this alternative schedule to fall behind and not catch up,” said Steve Robison, the study’s lead author. “And we found that these children fell behind and stayed behind.”
Experts are almost unanimous--doctors need to tell parents that the vaccination schedule is there to protect their kids.
“A delay in vaccinating your children increases the amount of time they are susceptible to a number of diseases,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. “This is a clear indication of where the anti-science movement is having an impact.”They're missing something else. It's putting other kids at risk as well.
Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it may be easy for parents to misunderstand the risks posed if their children skip vaccinations for diseases that have been very rare for decades. But he said doctors have an obligation to emphasize the importance of immunization to all their patients.
“That first-line responder needs to be far more passionate about vaccines and what it means not to get them. It’s not a theoretical risk anymore,” he said.