Most Docs Say OK When Parents Push for Vax Delays

Family physicians know the risks, but they don't want to lose patients
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2015 1:08 PM CST
Most Docs Say OK When Parents Push for Vax Delays
In this April 20, 2012, photo, Holly Ann Haley, 4, gets vaccinations at the doctor's office in Berlin, Vt.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Doctors are reluctantly delaying vaccine schedules for kids, despite knowing the risks of doing so, because they don't want to alienate parents altogether, reports the New York Times. A study published in Pediatrics that surveyed 534 primary care physicians found that 93% of them were asked to delay a vaccine by a parent in any given month; a fifth of respondents said more than 10% of parents in their practice had asked for delays. More than one-third of the physicians copped to giving in "often" or "always"; another 37% said they did "sometimes." "Doctors are feeling really conflicted because they overwhelmingly think this is the wrong thing to do, and is putting children at risk, but at the same time, they want to build trust with their patients and meet people halfway," the study's lead author says, per Time.

It's not for lack of trying to reach these vaccine-wary parents, the researchers note: Doctors will often use a variety of strategies to convince parents to stick to the traditional schedule, including telling them their own kids have been vaccinated, bringing up possible future outbreaks if they buck vaccination, or even warning that the alternate schedules haven't been studied adequately. But in the end, the doctors still often acquiesce and are faced with a stressful decision. "To know I'm going to pick one [vaccine] and leave the other behind, despite all the time I spend explaining the risks and benefits to the parents—it's very difficult for me," a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine tells Time. (Read more vaccinations stories.)

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