New study indicates many parents delay childhood vaccines.


by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 HealthLink

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Posted on November 29, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 29 at 10:18 AM

 "Gimme 5. Hey guys how 'ya doin'? Come on in," beamed Dr. Hal Quinn as his young patients arrived at his office. 

Dr. Quinn, a pediatrician at Mercer Island Pediatrics has seen brothers Jack and Sam since they were infants.

"No shots!" Jack said. "No shots today that's right," replied Dr. Quinn.

Four year old Jack is used to lots of those. Whitney Johnsen spaces her boys' immunizations apart.

If he was supposed to be getting four in a given day he would get them, over four months," Johnsen said.

She said sorting out the hot topic of vaccine safety makes her job as a parent rough. She wants to fully immunize her kids but she asked Dr. Quinn for a longer time line.

"He was totally supportive of us doing an alternative vaccine schedule if that made me more comfortable," she said.

Seattle Children's Pediatrician Dr. Doug Opeljust published new research in the journal Pediatrics. His team found more than three fourths of Washington State pediatricians see parents who ask for an alternative vaccine schedule for their kids.

These parents are looking for the right information so they can make an informed decision," Dr. Opel said.

He said rigorous studies have shown vaccines are safe.  Still many parents are hesitant to stick to the standard childhood immunization schedule set by the Centers for Disease Control.

"I will acknowledge there's a lot of distrust out there. And we, as pediatricians and pediatric providers, need to do better at sort of allaying that fear and that mistrust," he said.

His study found pediatricians are most opposed to delaying three vaccines, Haemophilus Influenzae type b, or Hib, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, known as Prevnar, and DTaP, the diphtheria-tetanus toxoids-acellular pertussis vaccine.  The first two protect against devastating meningitis. And DTaP protects against whooping cough.

"A vaccine against a disease that is currently endemic to Washington State and the United States. We see a lot of disease from pertussis or whooping cough," Dr. Opel explained.

The pediatricians at Mercer Island Pediatrics say they make it policy to work with parents who ask to space out vaccines.

But as Dr. Danette Glassy explained, they also tell families that routine vaccines, are safe, effective, and important.

"I know that's the best we can do to prevent against these diseases that are still there, whooping cough, meningitis," Dr. Glassy said.

The new study found the recommended vaccine schedule is by far the most popular with pediatricians. Only four percent of the doctors would offer to space them out if parents didn't ask.  And an overwhelming 96% of the pediatricians indicated they would follow the recommended immunization schedule for their own child if they were to become a new parent.