Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to prevent infectious diseases and deaths around the world, but some parents delay vaccines or follow an alternative immunization schedule.
The study, “Frequency of Alternative Immunization Schedule Use in a Metropolitan Area,” in the July 2012 Pediatrics (published online June 18) tracked children born between 2003 and 2009 using the Oregon ALERT Immunization Information System.
Researchers found 4,502 children living in the Portland, Ore., area who were consistently delaying vaccines recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The rate of consistent shot-limiting among 9 month olds rose from 2.5 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent in 2009. Children with consistently limited shots had more visits to providers for shots, fewer total shots, and did not generally catch up later with ACIP recommended immunizations. Negative media attention regarding vaccine safety likely contributed to the increase in parents delaying or limiting the number of immunizations, study authors suggest.
Study authors note that there are no known benefits to delaying vaccines in infants, and doing so unnecessarily leaves children susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause severe disease or even death, especially in young infants who are too young to be immunized.