In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak — and with the number of diagnosed cases continuing to rise across the country — many parents are still fighting for the right not to vaccinate their children, despite continued vaccination recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For a while now, the CDC has compiled a list of vaccines that are safe, effective, and — in some states — mandatory. According to the organization’s most recent recommendation, all children (with the exception of immunocompromised patients) should receive 14 different vaccinations by the age of six.
The New York Times has recently noted that the CDC’s statement also advises that a strict vaccination schedule be followed for the 14 vaccinations. In total, about 29 individual shots are given, and the recommended schedule includes sessions where several shots (for different vaccines) are administered at the same time.
But a study recently appearing in the March 2, 2015 publication of the academic journal Pediatrics has found that, despite these strong recommendations from the CDC, many parents are asking doctors to delay vaccinations — and a large number of doctors are complying.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and from Children’s Hospital Colorado, included a survey of 534 doctors across the country. In this survey, 93% of doctors stated that they have complied — at least once — with parental requests to delay vaccinations for children under the age of two.
One-fifth of the surveyed doctors estimated that about 10% of parents in their practices have requested that vaccinations be postponed until the child is older, and one-third of respondents stated that they “often” or “always” agree to delay the vaccines, while another third stated that they “sometimes” agree to a delay.
The problem here, as TIME has noted, is that the majority of doctors in the survey (90%) think that spacing out or delaying vaccinations puts children at a significant risk of contracting diseases like the measles, mumps, and whooping cough.
Rather than signifying a change in the safety of vaccines or the legitimacy of CDC recommendations, it seems that this trend is a result of healthcare professionals struggling to earn and keep the trust of parents. Being able to ensure that the parents will agree to vaccinations at some point, rather than simply taking their business elsewhere and possibly leaving their children unvaccinated entirely, is a sacrifice that 82% of doctors believe is worth the risk.
“There is a low risk to benefit ratio when it comes to vaccinations, everyone should be vaccinated,” says Dr. Gary Childers, MD, Doctors Express Cherry Creek. “The risks that most people are concerned about are actually very low compared to the benefits of the vaccination itself. There have not really been attitude changes regarding vaccinations, we’ve only had about two cases of measles here in Colorado.”