Most doctors respect parents’ wish, even though in their opinion such a delay increases the risk for children to develop the preventable diseases and make the experience more painful, scientists noted.
The findings were published in journal Pediatrics.
About 60 percent of parents actually refuse vaccination of their children, according to Dr. Allison Kempe, study leader. She added that “there is an increasing number of parents asking to deviate from the schedule in other ways.”
Familiar with parents’ concern for the safely of their children, Dr. Kempe anticipated doctors would receive requests from parents, but not so often.
“I was surprised by over 20 percent of doctors saying 10 percent or more of their families (had asked) to spread out vaccines,” said Kempe, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado.
To protect against many diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends parents take children for several shorts during the first years. This schedule is endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which publishes Pediatrics.
The vaccination schedule is timed in such a way that it works best with children’s immune system to protect them against diseases as soon as possible.
The report comes in the context of U.S. facing a large measles outbreak which already infected 154 people in 17 states and Washington, D.C. as of Feb 20, CDC says. Experts have determined outbreak started in Disneyland at Anaheim, California.
When conducting the study, Kempe and her team collaborated with the CDC by sending surveys to 815 pediatricians and family doctors across the U.S. in 2012, and received 534 filled-out surveys.
As much as 93 percent of doctors indicated at least one parental request to spread out the immunization of children younger than two years of age. Of this segment, 21 percent of doctors said at least 10 percent of families asked the same thing.
She said several techniques need to be combined, including education during pregnancy, more responsible reporting by the media, limiting the use of philosophical exemptions, and better collaboration between the public and health department.
Dr. Kempe thinks several techniques are needed to convey the correct message, including education during pregnancy, and better collaboration between public and health departments.
“It can’t all fall on the primary care doctors’ backs,” Kempe said. “It’s too big and too time consuming of an issue.”