That’s how many vaccinations are recommended for a child by the age of two. That’s a lot of needle sticks.
Sure, a number of vaccines are now combined into a single shot, but there’s no question you feel like you are turning a child into a human pincushion with all of those pokes.
But that’s only part of the issue that has many parents concerned about childhood immunizations. The bigger worry is that too many vaccines too close together can stress a child’s immune system and cause problems, rather than prevent them.
And many doctors are giving in.
A new survey in the Journal Pediatrics shows that most primary care doctors (pediatricians and family practice docs) will delay vaccines if a parent requests that the needle be kept in the holster. Specifically, of the approximately 500 doctors surveyed, 74% said they would hold off at least “some of the time” to “always.”
Now this is despite the fact that there is no science behind the worry that all of these vaccines can overwhelm the immune system of a young child. They can be safely given as recommended.
So then, why do we doctors give in when we know there’s no medical basis for a delay?
The study cites a couple of reasons. One is that if we agree with a parent’s request, we keep their trust. We show we care about their worries. The second reason is that if we push too hard, a parent will grab their kid and leave the practice.
Number one makes sense. I’m not sure how I feel about reason number two. After all, the survey shows that we generally have 18 minutes to do everything we need to do during a well-child visit, yet on average spend 9 minutes discussing why vaccines are important. But if we can keep a parent in the practice, talk with them, answer questions, work with them—maybe we can, at some point, get all of those vaccines taken care of.
So it’s not a matter of parents being pushy. These are valid concerns. And it’s not a matter of us doctors being wimps or weaklings. The vast majority of doctors believe in immunizations, and even though it seems like we should just put our foot down—this survey wasn’t necessarily discouraging. It shows “give and take” and the willingness of doctors and parents to work together.
On the other hand, I do worry that delay can add up to disease. Hold off on one of those immunizations, and the next thing you know, your child is deathly ill with measles or whooping cough.
I always immunized my kids when they were young. And even with more vaccines available today, I’d immunize them now — on schedule — if they were babies and toddlers once again.
It is safe to follow the recommended immunization schedule.
The bottom line is that we all want what’s best for your child. And it’s important we work together to keep them healthy. Ask away. And always have an open mind. We’re here to help.
Here is a link to the recommendations.