Oct. 3, 2011 -- More than 1 in 10 parents of young children don't follow the recommended vaccination schedule, new research shows.
They decline some vaccines, delay others, or in other ways tweak the recommendations, the survey found.
The 1 in 10 finding is concerning, says researcher Amanda Dempsey, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "That's enough to cause increases in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks," she says.
Dempsey and her colleagues conducted a survey over the Internet of a nationally representative sample of parents of children ages 6 months to 6 years old. They asked them which vaccination schedule they used and whether their child got all recommended vaccines.
The parents answered other questions, including whether they had a regular health care provider for their child.
Dempsey's team evaluated 748 responses. The parents ranged from 18 to 59 years old, but most were ages 30 to 44.
Some of the 13% who followed an alternative schedule looked to well-known ones, such as those promoted by Dr. William Sears or Dr. Donald Miller. But much more commonly, parents on the alternative schedule tweaked it themselves or took a friend's advice on how to do so. Some said they worked with the child's doctor to develop the alternative schedule.
The patterns among those not following the recommended schedule varied. Among them:
17% said their child did not get any vaccines.
53% said they didn't get some vaccines.
55% said they delay some vaccines until older than the recommended age.
36% said they wait longer between multiple-dose vaccines than is recommended.