Almost Half Of Babies & Toddlers In The U.S. Skip Vaccines As ‘Alternative Vaccine Schedules’ Catch On

alternative vaccine schedulesNot too long ago, it was hippy families in Oregon who were developing “alternative vaccine schedules.” But that “method” by which to vaccinate your kids is apparently catching on.

Reuters reports that “nearly half of babies and toddlers in the United States aren’t getting recommended vaccines on time.”

Jason Glanz, with Kaiser Permanente Colorado, lead the study reviewing immunization records for about 323,000 children. And there’s some concerning tardiness:

During the study period, the number of children who were late on at least one vaccine – including their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) shots – rose from 42 percent to more than 54 percent.

Babies born towards the end of the study were late on their vaccines for more days, on average, than those born earlier.

More importantly, Glaz and his colleague’s findings could very well send us back to ye olden days of illness:

“What we’re worried about is if (undervaccination) becomes more and more common, is it possible this places children at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases?” said study leader Jason Glanz…

“It’s possible that some of these diseases that we worked so hard to eliminate (could) come back.”

… “When that happens, it can create this critical mass of susceptible individuals,” said Saad Omer, from the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

Researchers are still parsing out what exactly accounts for parents veering from doctors’ recommended vaccine schedule and throwing together their own. For some, it appears that they simply don’t have the resources to stick with doctors’ orders, as researchers posit some kids “bounced in and out of insurance coverage.” Others, Glanz implies, were ill during well-child visits and so vaccines for pushed.

Nevertheless, only a little more than one in eight children was not vaccinated due to parents’ choices. For those other children, experts aren’t “certain” as to the cause. Glanz adds that they don’t even know too much about these new vaccine schedules either:

“We don’t really know if these ‘alternative schedules’ as they’re called are as safe, less safe or more safe than the current schedule.”

But you know what definitely checks out as safe (for now)? Said standard vaccine schedule.

(photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock)

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  • Ordinaryperson

    Do you have to pay up front for vaccines? Could that be a contributing factor? Are they expensive?

    • lyn

      It depends on your insurance. But I don’t think that has anything to do with the majority of those who are choosing not to vaccinate. They aren’t vaccinating because they are freaked out by now proven false reports. And Jenny McCarthy, who thought she was a Dr, or a specialist, or whatever else she thinks she is.

    • Jenna

      Almost all states have programs where even if children don’t qualify for government health insurance, if their private health insurance doesn’t cover vaccinations or if they have none they can still get them at little to no cost.

      Sometime’s there is a delay, however, because of children bouncing in and out of insurance like the article mentioned. So while the cost alone probably isn’t cause for children NOT getting vaccinated, it may be the reason some kids are behind the standard CDC schedule. My 15 month old is currently three months behind on his vaccinations because of insurances shenanigans. He will get them, but because they’re delayed I’m sure he’s counted as one of those statistics.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Unless there are specific physical issues to your specific child (a known autoimmune disorder, for example), or financial limitations – which shouldn’t even happen because civilized countries pay for these things – then there is no excuse for not vaccinating your child, and you’re being more negligent than if you give them the darn vaccine on time.

  • geckomommy

    The reason I have heard is the potential link between vaccinations and developmental delays or autism. There’s also concern about potential reactions to the vaccine. It’s up to the parent to determine what’s best for their child, as some vaccines can wait while others are best done before 2 because of increased risk of infection at that age. I’m still doing research myself so I will know what to do when the time comes.

    • Shea

      But there’s absolutely no reputable scientific evidence for the so-called link between autism and vaccines. It’s a lot of panic drummed up by the likes of

    • geckomommy

      Thanks for the info. I honestly don’t know, having only seen a few articles and the CDC stats and heard moms talking. I’m pregnant with my first child and positively overwhelmed by the myriad of decisions and choices ahead of me. I’ll definitely check out that book.

    • Shea

      I’m so glad I could help! There is a lot of information out there, and it can be hard to sift through it and separate the good from the bad. Definitely check out the book, and also listen to what your pediatrician has to say. Of course you want the best for your child, and it’s scary when you hear someone say that her kid got a vaccination and was suddenly autistic, but this is the sort of thing in which you have to let reason and science rule your decisions, not frightening anecdotes. There’s no evidence whatsoever that vaccines cause autism or other behavioural disorders, and lots of evidence that they prevent a host of unpleasant and even potentially fatal illnesses. Good luck, and best wishes for a happy, healthy baby!

    • lyn

      I agree with what Shea is saying. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the info out there and of course you want what’s best. Shea has great points! I would caution against getting your information from certain sites though…anyone can post anything they want on the internet, factual or not. I have a girl (10) and a boy (6). Both were vaccinated on normal schedules and I had discussions with their Pediatrician. They are both normal, doing well in school, no development problems, etc. etc! The potential threat (death) from the specific disease itself far outweighs the 1 in a gazillion chance of a problem from the vaccination. I personally know NOT ONE person who had a bad reaction, or anything else (autism) from a vaccination!

      I’ve never understood why everyone followed “Dr Jenny McCarthy”! I thought it was completely ridiculous that people followed the beliefs of a “celebrity” and not their own Dr and CDC.
      Best of luck to you and your first baby!

    • CrazyFor Kate

      Learn to do some critical research, please.

    • geckomommy

      Wow, condescend much?

  • lx

    People are doing alternative schedules for safety reasons. The CDC schedule is there because of money & politics. Forget about 600% the safe amount of aluminum in 6 combined shots with zero safety testing. Do some real research before you write these half baked articles.

    • once upon a time

      You look great in that tinfoil hat.

    • K.

      Okay, where’s YOUR research then? And by ‘research,’ I mean, please cite from peer-reviewed articles written by experts in the field and published in internationally-recognized scientific journals–NOT your Internet-soundbite-MomSearch. Kthnx.

    • Bianca

      As I commented above, my cousin died from measles. A horrible traumatic death. We brought her home from the hospital in a coma on her birthday. She never made it to 3rd grade. Politics? Money? Right. I say ignorance.

    • lea

      Zero safety testing? Flat out lie.

      Also, (from a 2003 paediatrics journal study) “By 6 months of age, infants typically ingest ∼6700 μg of aluminum in breast milk, 37800 μg in infant formula, or 116600 μg in soy-based formula.”

      Compared to roughly 1200μg from vaccines.

      I think perhaps you should take your own advice and do some real research before posting half baked comments.

  • K.

    This is NOT a “do what’s best for your child,” “I need to do Mommy research” opportunity.

    This IS a put your child–and everyone else’s child–in harms way decision. Let me put it into perspective: if you didn’t vaccinate your child against whooping cough and your child caught it, your child would die. But furthermore, your child could have come into contact with a 2-month old infant, who cannot get the vaccine (and the vaccine given to to the mother will wear off as her immunity, which passes to the child, starts to be ‘replaced’ by the infant’s developing immune system) and you would have killed that baby as well. So unless you want to go off and live in a cave somewhere, this is not a joke. This is you affecting the lives of other children.

    The CDC is not a conspiracy. You know what WAS a conspiracy? Andrew Wakefield (formerly Dr., as he has been since stripped of his medical license) falsifying data in order to suggest a link between autism and vaccines in the first place.

    The CDC conducts huge, comprehensive studies–and has done tremendous research on the safety of childhood vaccines. You know who DIDN’T do a comprehensive study? Andrew Wakefield–and not only did he falsify data, but he ALSO only studied 12 patients. 12. In case you don’t understand this, even if the results of his research were legitimate, a sample size of 12 is not enough to be scientifically relevant. It would, perhaps, been enough to encourage more scientists to further study the connections between autism and vaccines, but since he went ahead and lied in his publication, it’s not only irrelevant but fake as well.

    The CDC-schedule is recommended on the basis of tremendous research regarding the safety of vaccines. You know what schedule doesn’t have as strong a research background? Dr. Sears’ alternative vaccination schedule. Now, fine–space the vaccines out if it makes you feel better–at least you are vaccinating–but know that you are making more trips to the doctor and subjecting your child to more shots based on…making you FEEL better, not actual medical evidence.

    If you want to argue the CDC is all about money and politics, fine. But you know where there’s a lot of money and a lot of political clout? Finding the cause and cure to autism. So if you want to believe that the CDC is in the pocket of protecting big pharm or whatever, fine. But there are a lot of other labs out there researching this and frankly, they are all in competition with each-other to find the actual causes, collect their Nobels and then go cash in. The whole “CDC-conspiracy” doesn’t hold up even within the most cynical framing of the scientific community–and trust me, most scientists who are researching childhood disease are moral, hardworking people.

    The one upshot to Andrew Wakefield’s ‘research’ (and by the way, there were appalling ethical problems with his research as well in the treatment of the children he researched) is that there HAS been a lot of research–by more reputable labs ALL OVER THE WORLD (so not just the CDC, if you have a problem with them)–on autism and vaccines. And you know what they have been finding?


    We ALSO know that in many–although not ALL–of the cases in which parents were reporting that their children were ‘regressing’ around 1.5-2 years after vaccines, it turns out that their children had developmental delays all along (Jenny McCarthy’s son didn’t smile until around 6-7 months, which is a developmental delay)–it’s just that those deficits, which often pertain to things like language aren’t obvious until the skill itself is developing, which is sometime after a year anyway. There are some horrifying reports about parents whose children get shots and then sleep for 40 hours and aren’t the same after they wake up–and yes, we need to investigate that further–but in all honesty, those cases are outliers. They get press because they are dramatic. There are many, many more correlations that point towards genetics.

    Yes, autism is a difficult developmental disorder. It can, however, be addressed if there is a diagnosis, especially if it’s caught early enough. And I promise you, a child with a disability can live a rich, interesting life. And they will HAVE a life, versus the much more potent and likely risk you take when you don’t vaccinate.

    • cliff

      I understand what you’re saying, hell, I agree with you, but I also, absolutely, understand why some parents chose not to. These are not evil or stupid people, killing babies for kicks. My own brother died as the result of an allergic reaction to a whooping cough vaccine and I was , as a result, not vaccinated against it. I did get it and spent a week in bed and I was fine, lucky me, I know. In the end people will do what they feel best for their own kids. Thats their right. They are not bound to protect other people’s kids at, what they perceive to be, the expense of their own. No amount of statistics would have convinced my grief stricken parents to vaccinate me I know that.

    • K.

      Well, first of all, I am very sorry about what happened to your brother and to your family.

      I am not arguing that all parents everywhere be forced to vaccinate their children under all circumstances. I would say that there are cases in which parents, on an individual case-by-case basis, have grounds for refusing/delaying certain vaccines and these include allergies and autoimmune diseases. However, the reasons for taking an independent exception have to do with the medical specifics of that particular child based on actual evidence and actual medical data pertaining to THAT individual kid.

      I AM arguing against the willy-nilly anti-vaccine movement because it is NOT specific to the individual child’s medical profile (as refusing/delaying certain vaccines would be if your child was diagnosed with autoimmune or something). I still maintain that every parent does NOT have a right to “do what is best for their child” when what they think is “right” is based on paranoid fantasy and when doing so puts other kids’ lives at risk.

    • whiteroses

      I agree. The fact is that we don’t know what causes autism. There are a lot of factors. Blaming it on vaccination is kind of ridiculous. And if a child has an autoimmune disorder, then its parents need to do what’s right for their child. But not vaccinating just because of the “big pharma” myth is utterly ridiculous.

    • Emily

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’, folks.

  • Fran

    I can only hope these unvaccinated children are not allowed to go to public schools with other kids. My kids would be protected if someone’s child brought polio to school, but what about the other kids whose parents didn’t vaccinate them? This is a public health nightmare waiting to happen.

    • Diana

      Those ” other kids” wouldn’t be allowed to go to a public school unvaccinated. In The States at least. What I worry about most is all the adults out there who haven’t had the vaccines the current generation are getting. I know when I was at school they didn’t give us half the shots kids today get. You and me may be more of a risk than the kids! I mean Meningitis C vac was only introduced in 2000 or so. I never had it as a kid, neither did my parents. We’re a risk too.

    • Jenna

      They do let them into public schools. All you have to do is fill out a simple form. I know plenty of unvaccinated kids going to public schools. It’s terrifying.

    • lyn

      They are allowed to attend public schools if they list religious values as a reason for not vaccinating.

    • LiteBrite

      One of my co-workers did that. (She’s not religious either.)

      Unvaccinated kids in public schools are not the only problem; it’s also the kids who have been previously vaccinated but need booster shots. Last year an epidemic of whooping cough flew through many of the public school districts here. Guess which age group had the highest incidence. Ages 11-16. I would be willing to bet that many of these kids had been previously vaccinated but had not had the necessary boosters. A lot of parents don’t know that or don’t bother.

      And as others mentioned, adults too need to keep up on their shots. Our state has an immunization registry where you can look up your immunization history via Social Security number.

  • Carmen Finnigan

    Nothing like evidence-free healthcare. It is unbelievable that people think they can read some articles on the web and think they know better than decades of research.

  • WK

    I am one of those parents who delayed vaccinations. I am a smart, well educated person. I have every right to decide what goes in my children’s bodies. And, NOTHING about vaccines is without risk.

    • Ipsedixit

      So you have a medial degree then?

    • SusannahJoy

      Of course there are risks. There are going to be risks with anything. But unless you’ve done the research (and reading a couple articles that talk about studies that were done doesn’t count as research), then you don’t know enough about those risks to make an educated decision. That’s why we pay doctors so much. You’re absolutely allowed to have concerns, and your doctor should be more than happy to sit down and discuss them with you. If they aren’t, and just tell you that they need to get the vaccines and leave it at that, go find another one. But I guarantee, you will not find a reputable doctor tell you that it’s ok to skip vaccinations unless there’s a serious medical reason not to get them (like you know the child is allergic to one of the ingredients). And yes, you do have the right to not vaccinate your kids. And we all have the right to think that you are wrong. Having the right to do something is not the same thing as having the right to do anything you want and expect no consequences (not that you in particular were saying that, but it does seem to be a very prevalent idea, especially on the internet).

    • lea

      “Having the right to do something is not the same thing as having the right to do anything you want and expect no consequences”

      Beautifully put.

    • Bianca

      My cousin died from the measles. Until you’ve brought a child home from the hospital, in a coma, on their 8th birthday, to die at home… you’re not well educated on vaccines.

    • Guest

      Bringing a child home from the hospital in a coma does not make a person well educated on vaccines…

    • lea

      Can I change your last sentence to read “NOTHING is without risk”.

      Yes, with any medication there is risk. And you do have the right to weigh up this risk and decide for yourself. But I have to agree with some of the other commenters when I say that it is unlikely that you have the education or training to do that in a fully informed way.

      One criticism of the current vaccine schedule is that children are being exposed to “too many” immunogens at the one time, and that we should space them out to give their bodies a “break”.

      This may not have been your reason, but if so, what you need to remember is that in every breath your child takes, in every meal they eat, in every item they touch- they are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of immunogens. Our bodies are designed to surveil for these with our amazing and complex, multi-armed immune systems.

      The early vaccines were often against only one pathogen, true. But against multiple parts of that pathogen. So, to try to explain, the measles vaccine may have been against 300 different measles immunogens (tiny parts of the virus that the immune system recognises). Nowadays, that has been reduced down to more like 10. Which means that even in a new combined pathogen vaccine (say MMR) you’d be getting 30 or so immunogens compared to 300. (I hope that makes sense!)

  • bumbler

    What about the problem of adults not getting vaccinated? No one seems to raise a fuss about the fact that it’s adults who are usually spreading whooping cough and the like to kids and babies. As far as I know, very few adults go for the booster shots (seems like mostly just parents of newborns born in the winter, right??) We’re worried about half the kids not being vaccinated when “NONE” of the adults are vaccinated? I’m too lazy to really research into this idea, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

    • lea

      YES! In the recent small whooping cough outbreaks we’ve had here in Aus, the parents (or other adult caregivers) turned out to be the most common source of infection.

      This sparked a free vaccination program for new parents (and other caregivers), which I think ran for a year to two.

      Get a booster people! You’re probably due for a tetanus booster anyway (and the pertussis adult booster vaccine has diphtheria and tetanus included- here anyways)

  • Ethel Arauz

    I am not fully opposed to vaccines as much as I am
    opposed to the amount of vaccines given at one time. I decided to follow the schedule with a few weeks added to the scheduled appointments until my daughter turned one. I decided to wait until she was 3 or 4 to catch her up on the rest of the vaccines. After my daughter slept for almost an entire day after a round of shots I decided I would delay her shots. I will not be convinced otherwise. My daughter has only been sick once in her life. A lot of children get sick because parents aren’t making sure their kids wash their hands after outings & before eating. They don’t provide nutrition for a healthy immune system either. My child will start PRE school soon & will be up to date on vaccines. There’s nothing wrong with delaying vaccines. I think it’s far more riskier to fill kids up with vaccinations before their bodies may be able to tolerate these often high doses of vaccinations. Not enough research has been done about what EXACTLY is in som of the vaccinations either. A lot of research available is animal based- like those studies haven’t been proven to not be unreliable. Just look at the rate of prescription medication recalled and the reliance on animal trials versus actual human trials.

    • Guerrilla Mom

      I’m with you. My pediatrician has a schedule that isn’t “delayed,” it just spaces the vaccinations out a little more so that kids don’t have to have more than 2 a visit. The one visit where this wasn’t the case was his 15 month. At that visit, he got DTaP, HIB, and Prevnar all at once. He literally did not move for 12 hours. It was really terrifying. There’s nothing wrong with a parent deciding they don’t want their child loaded up with vaccinations on one day. After what we experienced, I would never do it again. As long as you are still getting your children vaccinated before they go to daycare or preschool – I don’t see a problem.

    • Wa

      My ped’s office does not have a schedule like that. I would greatly appreciate it if you would share the schedule! I certainly believe that vaccines and “herd immunity” are important, but after my daughter’s EXTREME reaction to the avalanche of vaccines given at her 2 month checkup, I began a schedule that spaced them out just a bit more. It was worth the extra trips to the doctor. I would love to see a schedule that a pediatrician wrote over my own home-grown one before my son is born. Thanks!

  • lx

    The information & research along with data about the amount of aluminum exceeding the FDS’s safety standards by 600% is included inside of Dr.Sear’s (MD) book , The Vaccine Book.

    I can see there are alot of pro vaxxers on this website & you all believe you are doing what’s best for your families, more power to you. I think each parent deserves to make their own decisions.

    Did you know that in the 1980′s all of us parents received maybe 10 vaccine shots total before we were 6, & now that number is 46 shots before you are even 6 years old. That’s a big difference & while you may all blindly trust the CDC with your bodies & your children’s bodies the Vaccine court in the United States recently award millions of dollars to yet another child, “Damaged by vaccines” in a very quiet settlement with sealed records.

    For those of us who are cautious & would like to see unbiased safety studies proving without a doubt combo vaccines are safe, we have that freedom. It is a proven fact that pharmaceutical companies do make mistakes and that drugs and vaccines that had been approved have been recalled. Look at Vioxx, from Merk, look at the swine flue vaccine in the 1970′s, history is filled with examples that are little publicized.

    Alternate schedule allow for spacing, which can alleviate some safety concerns.

    Now someone commented that my tinfoil hat looks great on me, but I’d be surprised you can see my tinfoil hat with all the blinders on your sunglasses in your mainstream reality.

    • Justme

      1980 was thirty years ago. There have been huge medical and scientific discoveries between now and then that are aimed at preventing and curing disease. Just because something happened differently in the past doesn’t mean it was better.

    • lea

      As I said in a comment above, yes kids do get more vaccines now. But they are better designed, with more fine a target. They are constantly being refined down to the least amount of target for the same or better immune stimulating effect.

      For example, the Hep B vaccine contains only one small part of Hep B. One tiny surface protein. Rather than using a whole virus particle, like a lot of older vaccines used to.

      So the 46 odd now are still less of a load on the immune system then the 10 from days of old.

      It is like killing an pathogen with a bullet straight to the heart (new vaccine), compared to death by multiple stabbings (old vaccine).

  • Carli

    I won’t be vaccinating my daughter for atleast the first year after birth. For the record if a child comes in contact with whopping cough they are not automatically handed a death sentence. It can be treated with antibiotics and recover just fine.

    • lea

      The stats for kids under one getting whooping cough are as follows:

      - more than half will be hospitalised

      - more than half will momentarily stop breathing

      - 1 in 5 will get pneumonia

      - 1 in 100 will die.

      No, it isn’t automatically a death sentence, but it doesn’t look good.

      Also, although antibiotics are usually given (if the diagnosis is within 14 days of onset) this is actually to reduce the risk transmission, as it has little to no effect on the disease course or symptoms itself.
      This is one of those tricky infections where unfortunately, the child’s poor little body has to fight it all on its own.

    • whiteroses

      If you’re willing to take that risk, then that’s on you. The fact remains that the first few months of a child’s life are when their immune system is at its most vulnerable. I don’t understand the logic of parents who rely on herd immunity to protect their child- and antibiotics are sometimes worse than the vaccines that could have prevented a disease or illness in the first place. Not to mention the fact that if your child gets sick, they cant tell you what’s wrong. For me, vaccinating my son takes out a lot of guesswork. I’d rather wonder if he’s constipated than if he has a disease that’s prevented from vaccination. I’d also rather have the peace of mind.

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