Jump in Vaccination Delays Seen in Oregon

A study finds an almost four-fold rise in the percentage of parents who skip or delay vaccines.

More parents in Oregon may be skipping or delaying vaccines, a study finds. (Photo: Ian Hooton/SPL/Getty Images)

Jun 18, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

More parents may be skipping or delaying vaccines for their children, adhering to an alternative immunization schedule rather than one recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a study finds.

Focusing on the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, researchers found that the percentage of parents who limited their kids’ shots grew from 2.5 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent in 2009. The study, released online today in the journal Pediatrics, used data from the Oregon ALERT Immunization Information System to track kids born between 2003 and 2009 in that region. In the study 4,502 children out of 97,711 were considered consistent shot limiters.

Parents who continually limited vaccinations saw the doctor more often than those who didn’t, but they also got comparatively fewer vaccines, the study said. Some parents, researchers noted, chose to heed the advice of high-profile authors who advocate following alternative vaccines schedules or skipping some shots altogether.

“Although the identified pool of consistent shot-limiters is small, this group has translated their worries about vaccines into action and may represent the concerns of a larger proportion that may only episodically limit or delay, or who may have trouble finding accommodating providers,” the authors wrote.

The findings are similar to a 2011 Pediatrics study which found that out of 771 parents with children age six months to six years old, 13 percent said they used an alternative vaccination schedule.

Many in the medical and public health communities worry that if children delay or forgo vaccines, it could put them and other kids at higher risk for contracting diseases such as whopping cough and pneumonia.

“If you’re getting your kid vaccinated according to schedule, good work,” Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director of the Oregon Immunization Program, told Reuters Health. “If you’re tempted to use these alternative schedules, your child is going to be more susceptible (to the diseases) for a longer period of time.”

Do you think it’s a good idea to skip or delay certain childhood vaccinations?

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