It’s not up there with those chicken pox lollipops by any means. But despite taking their kids to the doctor’s office more, parents in or around the city of Portland are ignoring pediatrician recommendations and vaccinating their kids on their own clock.
Reuters reports that the number of children on “alternative” vaccination schedules is on the rise in this specific area of Oregon, growing from 2.5% in 2006 to 9.5% in 2009. Oregon’s numbers mimic a 2011 study of the United States, which found that one in 10 parents either refused to get their kids vaccinations or planned to get those shots in their own sweet time. The parental reasoning ranges from “a general mistrust” of vaccines to concerns about the pain to simply not wanting too many shots at once. But even though mothers and fathers may be well-intentioned, not keeping with doctor’s recommendation reportedly leaves children vulnerable to certain diseases:
“The recommended schedule is based on indisputable scientific evidence that the vaccines will work to prevent infections and are safe,” wrote Dr. Carol Baker, ACIP’s chair and a professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, in an email to Reuters Health…”The problem that we saw is that these kids are getting fewer shots total and they’re not catching up,” said [Dr. Steve Robison, the study's lead author from the Oregon Immunization Program].”Parents and doctors don’t realize how easy it is for kids on alternative schedules to fall behind,” he added.
And “indisputable” scientific evidence there is, so much so that the schedule of shots children should receive before their first birth is supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and CDC-backed Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
While this particular study did not discern whether kids on alternative vaccination schedules were more likely to contract diseases, Dr. Robinson maintains that previous research does, especially in cases pertaining to whooping cough. And because no vaccine is reportedly 100% effective, even vaccinated children are in danger when placed in contact with potential carriers — i.e. let’s hope the crayon lickers in your kid’s kindergarten class are up to speed on those shots.