M

ore doctors are reporting encounters with parents refusing to vaccinate their kids than a decade ago, but parents’ reasons for skipping immunizations have shifted in the past decade.

A new survey published in Pediatrics on Monday reports that 87 percent of pediatricians in the United States say they encountered parents refusing to vaccinate their children in 2013. A decade earlier, 75 percent of doctors reported they had experienced vaccine refusals.

The most common reason parents gave, according to doctors? The vaccines weren’t necessary.

advertisement

“Vaccines have been so good at taking diseases away that when we don’t see diseases, we don’t think they’re important,” said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a pediatrician and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program.

It’s the paradox of vaccines — they do away with infectious diseases to the point that they no longer seem necessary. The uptick in parents feeling that vaccines aren’t needed is concerning, Edwards said. Recent outbreaks of diseases such as measles have been blamed on a decline in vaccination rates.

“If you have a four-way stop and everybody stops at the stop sign, we’re fine. If one person doesn’t stop, we’re fine,” Edwards explained. “But if more people aren’t stopping, we’re going to have an accident.”

The survey also showed a shift in the number of parents who cite worries about the unfounded claim that vaccines or thimerosal — a preservative formerly used in childhood vaccines — can cause autism as the reason why they didn’t want their children to be vaccinated. The proportion of doctors who had encountered autism concerns fell from 74 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2013. It’s the first documented drop in that concern, the authors said.

“I’m not surprised by that,” said Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “I hear from pediatricians that’s been happening less.”

Offit, who was not involved in the Pediatrics study, said that scientific research and subsequent media coverage have helped to dispel the myth. The 2014 measles outbreak in California also served as “an education” about the importance of immunization, he said.

Many parents are concerned about giving their children too many vaccines in a short period of time, a nod to the idea of an alternate vaccine schedule that’s gained steam in recent years. Nearly 73 percent of pediatricians say that parents delayed vaccines because of scheduling concerns — something public health officials discourage because delays increase the time unvaccinated children are at risk of becoming sick. It’s not clear whether this concern increased or decreased — the 2006 survey didn’t ask doctors about vaccine schedules.

The retrospective survey asked pediatricians to recall encounters with parents. Doctors weren’t asked to keep hard numbers on those encounters, so the study could have introduced recollection bias.

More and more, doctors don’t want to put up with vaccine refusal. The rate of doctors who reported always dismissing families who refuse vaccinations from their practices nearly doubled between surveys. Their efforts to convince parents to vaccinate their kids are sometimes fruitless — pediatricians reported that they were able to persuade only about one-third of parents who had refused vaccines to change their minds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is trying to give doctors some added ammunition in those conversations with parents. The organization released a new guide called “Countering Vaccine Hesitancy” to accompany the survey.

“Generally, doctors aren’t prepared. It’s hard to counter,” Offit said. “We need to arm physicians with info to answer those questions.”

Newsletters

Sign up for our Morning Rounds newsletter

Please enter a valid email address.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Dr. Paul Offit as head of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • http://www.vaccinesrevealed.com

    Over my dead body. What happened to human rights? This country isn’t free anymore. And for drs to turn people away because they are exercising their human rights to say no? It’s despicable. Absolutely shameful. I am NOT proud to be an American.

  • A correction for this line: “Recent outbreaks of diseases such as measles and mumps have been blamed on a decline in vaccination rates.”

    The article referenced for the Harvard mumps outbreak actually states the opposite. The mumps outbreak occurred in a “highly vaccinated population” attributed to the 12% failure rate, not unvaccinated populations.

  • Doctors who vaccinate, USA, get bonuses, for every child up to date with vaccinations, and if they have like 90% vaccination rate, they get like an added $10,000 bonus for the year from pharma. Just follow the money trial, for the truth. Just stop going to damn doctors, don’t get vaccines, and you wont need the doctors anyway.

    • So many lies, so little evidence.

      Some insurance subscriptions offer well-patient rewards for doctors, but that comes from the insurance companies, not pharmaceuticals or the government.

      Most of the stupid anti-vax blogs lie about those “rewards” for wellness program participation.

  • Anyone who blindly accepts on faith the chorus of media pundits and CDC. officials and other shills that claim vaccines are necessary and relatively safe is completely uninformed. Vaccines do much more harm than good and there is an abundance of independant tests which prove this is a hundred ways. that this is news or up for debate in 2016 speaks not to the facts, (which are easily verifiable for anyone who looks past the vested interests’ propaganda, where real science is suppressed and results are cherry picked and the number of outrageous outright falsehoods obscure the clear facts) but to the power of uniform propaganda, media in lockstep with criminals masquerading as experts and the fatuous credibility of the dumbed-down American people. So, look past the CDC, the FDA and the AMA. There are scores of other places to get your information, places where it isn’t biased by greed. Start by looking for studies that are not bankrolled by Big Pharma. Hint: if it an American study, performed in the U.S., it is bankrolled by vaccine interests et. al. de facto. Google:independent vaccine studies and cross reference the word cover up to get well supported, scientific evidence. These studies have also been peer reviewed and published in the leading medical journals. The truth is out there.

    • Paul Offit was censured in 2003 by Congress for medical ethics regarding his profiteering in recommending dangerous vaccines he developed that killed and maimed thousands of children. He made millions of the pain and suffering of countless families and continues to push the dangerous and uneccessary MMR vaccine which has permanently ruined the lives of thousands of young girls in the U.S. and all over the world. Don’t believe the scare tactics, think for yourself. Just a couple of hours research of your own, away from the lockstep American media shills will open your eyes for good.

    • Nice lies.

      “Start by looking for studies that are not bankrolled by Big Pharma. Hint: if it an American study, performed in the U.S., it is bankrolled by vaccine interests et. al. de facto”

      http://www.pnas.org/content/112/40/12498.full.pdf

      Bankrolled entirely by anti-vax groups. Didn’t turn out how they wanted.

      ” Google:independent vaccine studies and cross reference the word cover up to get well supported, scientific evidence. These studies have also been peer reviewed and published in the leading medical journals. The truth is out there.”

      See, scientists know that google doesn’t present studies very well, but ignorant uneducated anti-vaxxers don’t know that.

    • “He made millions of the pain and suffering of countless families and continues to push the dangerous and uneccessary MMR vaccine which has permanently ruined the lives of thousands of young girls in the U.S. and all over the world. ”

      Citations required. You’re quite the liar.

  • Well, paper is a bit short. A vaccine is not an another. Some are really essential but for some, doubts are high and it exists real scientific debates on it. Some vaccine are not with good quality (so the army’s one for exemple during ’80 and ’90).

    Parents sees too that State is pressuring vaccine against health of individual children but for mass effect. This is then natural that parents see more about the individual health and it exists a doubt that multi-vaccine are not sometimes pushed by industry on some unnecessary vaccine.

    Sometimes too, we discover that illness is less dangerous as not having it.

    Topic is complicated and one major point of problem is the scientific fraud on vaccine and medical world corruption.

    People are less and less in confidence with people only drivne by money and glorious.

    • “and one major point of problem is the scientific fraud on vaccine and medical world corruption.”

      Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaxxer, is really the main point of that fraud and corruption. You’re guilty of psychological projection.

  • Here’s the real reason why doctors pressure parents into vaccinating their children. It’s not about keeping your child healthy—it’s all about the money!

    For 2016, Blue Cross/Blue Shield will give your pediatrician $400 for each child who is up to date on vaccines by age 2. But they have to have 63% of their patients vaccinated (including flu vaccines!) or else they won’t receive the payout.

    That adds up. How much? Well, on the lower end of the spectrum, a primary care physician or pediatrician can care for 500 patients. Let’s just say 100 of them will be turning 2 in 2016. If they can get 63% of those patients fully vaccinated, that adds up to $25,000.

    When more and more parents are waking up to the dangers and ineffectiveness of vaccines, this eats away at their “incentives”.

    For just 63 children fully vaccinated by age 2—$25,000!

    Read page 15 of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Physicians “Performance Recognition” Manual… 
    http://thephysicianalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/2016-BCN-BCBSM-Incentive-Program-Booklet.pdf

    https://wellnessandequality.com/2016/06/20/how-much-money-do-pediatricians-really-make-from-vaccines/

    • So wait, insurance companies want their subscribers to be healthier?

      So they have wellness rewards?

      How dare they!

  • As mentioned in the article, many parents are balking about vaccinating their children because of the many vaccines being given at once. My patients have asked me ‘which ones are important’? How do you answer that? They are all important!!! I think a new schedule spreading them out is one answer. Of course them you run the risk of the parents not bringing the child back for more visits. Insurance companies also balk at paying for more visits. I personally had my child vaccinated for varicella before it was mandatory. My neighbor laughed at me and insisted that her child get ‘chickenpox naturally. She wasn’t laughing when her daughter contracted chickenpox and she was pregnant with her second child! Fortunately the child was born healthy. Why risk a problem, when it can be prevented!!!

    • We have nothing to worry about. The greatest impact on decreasing infectious disease was better plumbing. Whe vaccines appeared on the scene these diseases were basically non exsistant due to again “better plumbing”. Do u want to prevent infectious diseases without all the dangerous side effects of vaccines? Stop mixing feces with your drinking water! What I worry about is all these childhood issues such as adhd, chrons ,autism, peanut allergies,etc…. all caused by vaccines.

    • Are you a Mumbai paid pharma troll? Chicken pox doesn’t hurt anyone in pregnancy, you are a bit confused, I think?

    • Angela – you are DEAD wrong about Chicken Pox in pregnancy. Maternal risks include varicella pneumonia and has a mortality rate of 28%. Fetal risks when the infection occurs in the first half of pregnancy include miscarriage and congenital anomalies. Newborn varicella infection is a life-threatening condition that can occur if the mother contracts varicella 2 days prior to birth or within 3 days after birth.

  • angela coral eisenhauer facebook. The fact that Australia now has 98.5% vaccination rate in kids, and the non stop epidemic of whooping cough because of that? USA unless to realise DTap is crap, which you got 10 years after Australia, soon your 100% vaccinated if you like, is going to provide you with 1 million vaccine failures, and whooping cough, and another 3 million PER YEAR, vaccinated DTap kids, who show no symptoms, and spread it to newborns, as is the experience in Australia, yep, the lab rat nation.

Sign up for our Morning Rounds newsletter

Your daily dose of news in health and medicine.