Skip to content

    Children's Vaccines Health Center

    Font Size

    More Than 1 in 10 Parents Don't Follow Vaccination Schedule

    Researcher Predicts Continued Increase, Risk of Disease Outbreaks
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    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.

    Vaccination Schedules & Parents: Survey Findings

    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.
    • 22% said they got each part of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine separately.

    The vaccines most likely to be refused:

    • H1N1 influenza, refused by 86% of those on the alternative schedule
    • Seasonal influenza, 76%
    • Chickenpox (varicella), 46%

    The vaccines least likely to be refused were polio and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis, each refused by 6% of parents.

    "Our study is in the ballpark of what was shown before," Dempsey says. "A lot of parents are on the fence about vaccines and this is going to continue to be a problem."

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Baby getting vaccinated
    Is there a link? Get the facts.
    syringes and graph illustration
    Get a customized vaccine schedule.
    baby getting a vaccine
    Know the benefits and the risk
    nurse holding syringe in front of girl
    Should your child have it?

    What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
    24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
    Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
    Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

    Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
    gloved hand holding syringe
    infant receiving injection

    WebMD Special Sections