As a certified medical technician or someone studying the pharmaceutical sciences, you’re likely to have a high degree of exposure and interaction with vaccinations.
While vaccinations can be necessary for people of all ages depending on lifestyle, health or travel, they are most prevalent among young children who are still building basic immunities.
With that in mind, one might think that immunization schedules would be relatively similar for all children. According to a recent study, it seems that more and more parents are asking doctors to adapt to special, delayed vaccination schedules for their children.
While opinion on this around the medical community varies greatly, many feel as though it may put these children at a heightened risk for contracting the diseases they are being vaccinated against.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and will be published in the April 2015 edition of the popular magazine Pediatrics. Effectively, the researchers performing the study set out to determine with what frequency pediatricians are asked to delay certain vaccinations for children under two years of age, and how these situations are typically handled.
In order to accomplish this, a monthly survey was held on a nationally representative grouping of pediatricians between the months of June and October 2012, and data from that process was later analyzed by UC researchers. Ultimately, these individuals determined that requests to spread out vaccinations for young children are exceedingly common.
According to Pediatrics, of the 66 percent of doctors who responded, 93 percent experienced these requests each month and a shocking 21 percent of doctors reported more than 10 percent of parents making these requests.1
What Does This Mean for Health Care Professionals?
This sort of request can put medical professionals in an uncomfortable situation. While it is the duty of a doctor to inform these parents that they may be endangering their child by not opting for the vaccine at the recommended point in time, it is ultimately the parent’s choice.
Further, as EurekAlert has indicated, many respondents from the survey stated that they felt they could build greater trust with their patient families if they agreed to an extension or delay for vaccines.2 Many doctors in the study, unsurprisingly, indicated that they felt they would be at a heightened risk of the patient leaving the practice if they refused.
Bloomberg has reported that the average American child receives 14 different immunizations between birth and their sixth birthday in accordance with doctor recommendations.3
Regrettably, there simply isn’t a clear cut solution to this problem. The research does seem to suggest that education is the key to avoiding these sorts of parent-doctor breakdowns in communication in the future. Multiple news outlets have theorized that beginning the process of educating parents about vaccination best practices early in the pregnancy could eliminate some requests for deferrals or delays.
Further, there may need to be evidence-driven education targeted at younger demographics and the general public in an effort to drive the number of vaccine rescheduling requests down as time moves on.
For example, many parents who request a delay in their child’s immunization schedule do so because they fear complications from the vaccine are more likely than their child contracting the disease in question. Were we able to reduce this sort of misinformation, these sort of requests might not be as frequent.
1) Kempe, Allison, Pediatrics, ‘Physician Response to Parental Requests to Spread Out The Recommended Vaccine Schedule,’ 3/2/2015 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2015/02/24/peds.2014-3474.abstract
2) EurekAlert, ‘Pediatricians Face Increasing Pressure to Delay Vaccinations,’ 3/2/2015, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-03/uocd-pfi022515.php
3) Ostrow, Nicole, Bloomberg, ‘U.S. Parents Pressure Doctors to Spread Out Kid Vaccinations,’ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-02/parents-pressuring-doctors-to-spread-out-kid-vaccinations