Nearly 40% of parents of toddlers have delayed or refused a child’s vaccination — a practice that endangers not only their children but others around them, a study reported Monday.
Refusing kids vaccines is becoming more common, according to a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Vancouver, Canada. The percentage of parents who delay or refuse a shot rose from 22% in 2003 to 39% in 2008, according to the study, based on records and interviews of parents of 8,904 children ages 1½ to 3 and conducted through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s National Immunization Survey.
The change in public opinion may not be quite as dramatic as it seems, says the CDC’s Lance Rodewald. Parents in 2008 had more opportunities to delay shots than they had five years earlier, because experts recommended three new vaccines for children those ages between 2003 and 2008 — including vaccines against hepatitis A, rotavirus and influenza.
Interviews with parents suggest that many are influenced by medical myths, such as the notions that kids can’t be vaccinated when they have a cold or that shots cause autism, Rodewald says.
Although kids vaccines were once almost universally accepted, some parents who are too young to remember diseases such as measles now question their importance, says pediatrician Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Yet some of these intentionally undervaccinated children have helped to spark recent measles outbreaks.
In 2008, for example, an intentionally unvaccinated 7-year-old boy brought measles into the country after returning from Switzerland, according to an April report in Pediatrics. The child exposed 839 people in the San Diego area to the disease, which killed 500 Americans a year before a vaccine was introduced in 1963.
Few of those exposed in 2008 became ill, a sign that their childhood vaccines protected them, Rodewald says.
But 11 unvaccinated children got sick. One of those was a newborn who was too young to get a measles shot — which is typically given at age 1 — who had to be hospitalized, according to the Pediatrics report. A total of about 140 people across the USA got measles that year, all related to infections brought in from other countries, Offit says.
“A parent’s decision not to vaccinate their child puts their own child at risk, but it also puts other children at risk,” Rodewald says, noting that unvaccinated newborns, children getting chemotherapy and those with immune deficiences are especially vulnerable.
Dr. Brian M. Moriarty, D.C. has a B.S. from Oglethorpe University and a D.C. from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida. Loving Chiorpractic of Stuart is located at 630 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, FL Phone: 772-219-3313.