Over 70% of Pediatricians Are Delaying Vaccinations

An oral vaccine is given to 6-month-old James Noland, of Salem, at Childhood Health Associates of Salem on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (Photo: Anna Reed, AP)
An oral vaccine is given to 6-month-old James Noland, of Salem, at Childhood Health Associates of Salem on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015. (Photo: Anna Reed, AP)

At a time when measles is making a dramatic comeback, a new study finds that more than 70% of children’s doctors have agreed to parents’ requests to delay vaccinations, even though most believe it puts children at risk, a new study shows.

The study highlights the pressure faced by pediatricians, who have only about 18 minutes per clinic visit in which to persuade parents to vaccinate their children, perform physical exams and discuss critical things such as sleep and nutrition. Doctors say they spend about half their time with patients discussing vaccines, according to a study out today in Pediatrics. One in five doctors say more than 10% of parents have asked to delay vaccinations.

More parents are skipping selected vaccines or delaying others, sometimes out of concern that immunizations cause autism, an idea that has been debunked in dozens of studies. Some parents worry that children get too many vaccines too soon, so they ask their doctors to space out shots rather than administer several at once.

Doctors often agree to delay vaccinations to maintain trust with parents or to avoid parents leaving the practice, according to the study, led by researchers at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

About 9% of pediatricians and 2% of family physicians say they always or sometimes dismiss families from their practice if parents want to skip or delay vaccinations, the study says. The American Academy of Pediatrics says doctors shouldn’t “fire” families who refuse vaccines, because it’s important to continue trying to persuade them.

Over time, families who are skeptical of vaccines may come to see that their pediatrician has their child’s best interest at heart, says Saul Hymes, assistant professor and attending physician at Stony Brook University Hospital on New York’s Long Island, who was not involved in the new study.

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SOURCE: Liz Szabo
USA TODAY

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