Vaccination Delays Put Many Children at Risk
Researchers Say Many Infants Don't Get Vaccinations on Time
Childhood Vaccination Delays Common continued...
Overall, the study showed that children were undervaccinated an average of
172 days for all vaccines combined during their first two years of life. About
34% were behind on their vaccinations for less than one month and 29% for one
to two months, but 37% were behind for more than six months.
"These data show that during certain periods of time children are
susceptible to infections that could be pretty serious and at a time when they
could have been be protected if they had adhered to the vaccine schedule,"
says Robert S. Baltimore, MD, professor of pediatrics at Yale University School
of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on
About a quarter of the children experienced delays in getting four or more
of the six recommended vaccines. About one-fourth of the children were
considered severely delayed because they were behind for more than six months
and for four or more vaccines.
Researchers say few of these delays were short. Instead, 39% of vaccination
delays ranged from three to 12 months.
How to Curb Vaccination Delays
The results suggest that several factors increase children's risk of
experiencing severe delays in getting their vaccinations, including:
- Having a mother who is unmarried or does not have a college degree
- Living in a household with two or more children
- Being non-Hispanic black
- Having two or more vaccination providers, such as a doctor and a
- Using public vaccination clinics
Baltimore says those risk factors are of particular concern because they may
occur in clusters.
"Children of mothers who have these risks may not only be at risk
because they have delayed vaccination but because they're in contact with other
children who have delayed vaccination, so there is a potential for infections
to spread within their community," say Baltimore.
Researchers say the results show that efforts are needed to address the
needs of these mothers in order to reduce immunization delays, including:
- Offering extended office hours to mothers who have trouble taking time off
- Explaining the benefits and safety of vaccinations in a manner appropriate
to the mother's education level
- Ensuring the availability of sibling child care in the workplace
- Putting systems in place to identify children who are falling behind in
their immunization schedule, such as issuing reminders to the parent when
vaccinations are due or late
But most of all, Luman says the most important thing that can be done to
reduce vaccination delays is to emphasize the importance of timely
"Timely vaccination is one of the most important things for a parent to
do to protect the health of their children," Luman says.