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Study Finds Nearly Half of Children Under 2 Years of Age Receive Vaccinations Late

Under-vaccinated children more likely to be admitted to hospitals (Jan. 21)

In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Denver, Colorado, found that 49% of children aged 2 to 24 months did not receive all recommended vaccinations or did not get vaccinated according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) schedule.

The researchers used the Vaccine Safety Datalink — a collaborative effort among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and nine managed-care organizations — to analyze the immunization records of 323,247 children born between 2004 and 2008. Data from these records indicated the number of days each child was missing scheduled vaccines for any reason, including parents intentionally choosing not to vaccinate their children according to ACIP recommendations. Children who did not receive their vaccines on time were considered “under-vaccinated.”

“While a large majority of parents in the U.S. choose to vaccinate their children, a growing number of parents are concerned about vaccine safety and choose to vaccinate their children according to alternative immunization schedules,” said lead author Jason Glanz, PhD. “The medical community doesn’t have a lot of data on these alternative schedules, so we are hoping the results from this study will open the door to more opportunities to examine their safety and efficacy.”

The new study found that the number of under-vaccinated children increased significantly during the study period, and that 1 in 8 under-vaccinated children’s parents intentionally chose not to adhere to ACIP immunization guidelines. Alternative schedules either involve increasing the time between vaccinations or reducing the number of vaccinations in a single office visit, leaving children under-vaccinated. The study findings also indicate that under-vaccinated children are less likely to visit their doctor’s offices and are more likely to be admitted to hospitals, compared with peers who are vaccinated under the standard schedule.

Source: Kaiser Permanente; January 21, 2013.

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