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More than 1 in 10 parents may not use recommended vaccine schedule

Not every parent is on board with following recommended guidelines for vaccinating their children. Some choose alternative schedules and others may be vulnerable to switching from a suggested timetable to a more unorthodox one, a study finds.

The study, released online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, queried 771 parents with kids age 6 months to 6 years old about vaccination schedules and their attitudes toward vaccinating their children. In this group, 13% said they used a vaccination plan that varied from the recommended schedule. Of those alternative vaccinators, 80% to 95% had anti-vaccination positions, 65% said they’d used alternative schedules for their other children, and 17% said no to all vaccines for their young children.

More commonly, parents who opted for different schedules refused some vaccines and delayed others until the child was older (H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines were most commonly refused, and those most often delayed were measles-mumps-rubella and varicella). Choosing an alternate vaccine schedule was linked with the child not having a regular healthcare provider.

Some parents who chose different vaccination timelines found support from their doctors; 40% said their physician “seemed supportive,” and 22% said their pediatrician was the one who recommended the alternate schedule. The study authors note that they didn’t determine why the doctor might have suggested that, but added that it could have been due to the children being sick at the time of the vaccination or because of vaccine shortages.

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Some parents who were using the recommended vaccine plan had doubts about it. Almost a quarter of those disagreed or strongly disagreed with the notion that conforming to the recommended schedule was a good idea. One in five of those parents believed that delaying vaccines was safer than getting them at the suggested times.

“These findings highlight the need to develop strategies quickly to prevent the spread of attitudes and beliefs that counter vaccination,” the authors wrote. “Fortunately, previous work suggested that many parents who are ‘on the fence’ about vaccination have views that might be modifiable through targeted educational approaches.”


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