Written by Brandon Betancourt
Dr. Ari Brown over at the Baby411 blog had a very interesting post where she looked in to a study, published in a pediatric journal, regarding parent’s attitude towards the vaccination schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control.
The study concluded that more than 1 of 10 parents of young children currently use an alternative vaccination schedule. In addition, a large proportion of parents currently following the recommended schedule seem to be “at risk” for switching to an alternative schedule.
Dr. Brown had a similar reaction to mine. She thought that the statistics were too high considering that a “vast majority of the families she treats DO follow the recommended schedule.”
In our practice, we too have a very small portion of parents that choose to “alter” the recommended schedule. Certainly well below the 10% mark.
But Dr. Brown didn’t just settled. She did what any good pediatrician does, which is, take a look a the data to understand where the numbers are coming from and how the researchers reached their conclusions.
Her findings provide a lot of insight.
She first mentions that the study was done in May of 2010, but it was just now published.
A lot has happened since May 2010 in the vaccine world (besides Michele Bachmann). In the same month that this survey was being done, the British researcher who published the now-retracted 1998 MMR-autism study in the Lancet lost his medical license for questionable practices. With this story, national media sided with modern medicine instead of conspiracy theorists on vaccine safety. That trend has been fairly consistent since then, and I think, has led to fewer parental concerns.
Dr. Brown highlights that the response rate from the study was only 61%; which could very well represent skewed data.
People who choose to vaccinate may have no interest in spending time answering questions about vaccine safety. People who choose to delay or skip vaccinations may want to share their position. It is hard to know what motivates people to participate in a survey, but it may influence the study results.
The first vaccine that parents refused or delayed was the H1N1 and the second, the seasonal flu.
Although there was outright hysteria regarding the H1N1 outbreak and calls for a rapidly available vaccine to combat it, there was also quite a bit of public anxiety about taking a vaccine that had not been field tested prior to use.
I agree with Dr. Brown when she points out that the seasonal flu should not be placed under the same category as other vaccines because with exception of New Jersey, the flu vaccine is not required for school entry.
While the CDC and AAP recommend annual flu vaccine, it is never included in the national immunization survey done annually by the CDC she adds.
I love Dr. Brown’s conclusions:
The most effective message I can share with you and my own patients is that I vaccinate my own children to protect them, I wouldn’t do anything differently for yours.
Here lies the problem. This study was picked up by many mainstream media outlets including CNN running with headlines like “More parents think it’s safer to delay vaccines,” “Parents Commonly Deviate from Vaccine Schedule,” and “Many parents opt for “alternative” vaccination schedule.”
But the truth of the matter is, the vast majority of parents in the study vaccinate their children on time.
You may read Dr. Brown’s entire article by clicking here
Brandon is a practice administrator, speaker and blogger. He and his wife, whom is a pediatrician, vaccinate their three children.
- Michele Bachmann Is Not a Doctor (she reveals), But Pediatricians Are (survivorpediatrics.wordpress.com)