Vaccines have become one of the hotter topics for parents in recent years. Thanks in large part to a discredited study that linked the Measels-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, parents began looking at vaccines with new suspicion. While the science on the facility of vaccines to prevent once-common — and sometimes deadly — diseases is indisputable, some parents feel that there are too many vaccines and too many of them are administered at once. The result has been parents opting to withhold or delay vaccines for their kids.
Now a new study on vaccine rates shows that, of over 300,000 babies and toddlers surveyed, 54% of them were late on at least some vaccines. The reasons for this vary according to the Huffington Post:
Just over one in eight children went undervaccinated due to parents’ choices. For the rest, it wasn’t clear why they were late getting their shots. Some could have bounced in and out of insurance coverage, Glanz suggested, or were sick during their well-child visits, so doctors postponed vaccines.
I know my son was a month behind on vaccines for a few years because of a snow storm. For real. He was supposed to get shots on a day there’d been a blizzard and everything got fouled up with his appointment so we had to reschedule. So there are all kinds of reasons and otherwise pro-vaccine parent could wind up with a child whose shots have been delayed.
However, there is cause for concern when there are large clusters of unvaccinated kids in an area. Epidemics of previously controlled diseases like pertussis or measles can erupt. While contracting one of these disease may not be a big deal for a healthy child whose parents made an educated decision about vaccines, for a compromised individual exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases can be quite dangerous. Since people can be contagious during the incubation period before symptoms appear, it’s tough to know if you’re unwittingly being exposed to diseases.
Most doctors concur that there are no safety concerns with the current vaccine schedule and vaccines are effective at preventing diseases. If you are considering skipping or delaying vaccines or have gotten behind for other reasons, talk to your pediatrician. Someone who knows your child and their individual health profile can help you make the best decisions for your family.
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