Study: More Parents Asking to Delay Vaccines and Most Doctors Go Along


Talk about your well-timed publications—a new study about delayed vaccination just dropped. Seems more parents are asking for it, and doctors are often going along.

The findings have just been published in the journal Pediatrics, the AP reports. The survey itself was conducted back in 2012; researchers talked to more than 500 doctors who’re members of either the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Academy of Family Physicians. According to their findings, the vast majority of doctors have somebody request delays at least once a month, and around a quarter said the number of requests had grown. Plus:

One in 5 doctors said at least 10 percent of parents had requested vaccine delays by spreading them out over more months than is recommended.
Most doctors said the practice puts kids at risk for getting vaccine-preventable diseases and might lead to disease outbreaks, but most also said they at least sometimes agreed to the delays. Only 3 percent said they often or always tell parents who insist on vaccine delays to seek care from another doctor.

The New York Times adds that most doctors cooperate with these requests despite worries about the risks involved, and they provide a little more insight into the doctor’s perspective. Basically, they figure it’s better to keep these parents around:

Dr. Omer said that he did not sanction the use of alternative vaccine schedules, but that he understood why primary care physicians keep treating these patients — just as doctors do not kick smokers out of their practices when they fail to quit.
“Physicians recognize it’s not ideal, but they’re saying, ‘Let’s continue this relationship’ to the family,” he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises doctors to keep skeptics in the fold, lest the doctors lose the opportunity to educate, cajole or persuade them.

One doctor explained that she cuts delayers slack because, generally, “ultimately they will get vaccinated.” (A number of doctors have less patience for outright rejection, however, sometimes severing their relationship with the patient entirely.) The problem is, no study has managed to nail down a best approach for wheedling these parents into sticking to the recommended schedule, and these conversations are increasingly taking up more and more of each check-up. So basically don’t even get your friend the pediatrician fucking started on the subject because she’s had a long day and does not want to talk about it.

Photo via Getty.

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