A new survey states that parents often ask doctors to delay their child’s vaccinations. The survey also adds that most doctors agree with those requests, even though they believe that such action could be hazardous to the child’s health.
Researchers from the University of Colorado and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted the survey, in which they asked a nationally representative sample of 534 primary care physicians in 2012 how often parents in their practices postponed one or more vaccinations for children younger than age 2. The doctors are the members of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The researchers found that 90% of the doctors said they receive requests from parents to spread out vaccines, and 1 in 5 doctors said that at least 10% of their patients have made this request. They also found that about three-quarters of doctors agreed to such requests either ‘often/always’ or ‘sometimes’, while only a quarter said that they ‘rarely’ complied with such requests.
The survey also found that 87% of the doctors said that parents who chose to spread out vaccines were putting their children at risk for contracting preventable infectious diseases, and 84% said the alternative schedules were more painful for children, because they had to come back to the doctor more times for injections. Only 3% of the surveyed doctors said that they generally tell parents who are adamant on delaying vaccination to consult another doctor.
The doctors who participated in the survey said that they agree to the parents’ request because doing so helps to build trust with families, and denying the request might cause families to leave and go to another doctor. They also added that the reasons why parents increasingly delay vaccination in their kids include concerns about probable long-term complications and other dangers arising from vaccines.
Recent outbreaks of whooping cough, chickenpox and measles have been linked with communities where too few children have received their vaccines on time. The authors of the report believe that there is an urgent need to create effective strategies to help doctors in their efforts to get parents to vaccinate their children on time.