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Almost half of U.S. children not getting vaccinated in timely fashion

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A recent study has made the alarming discovery that nearly half of babies and toddlers in the United States aren't getting their required vaccines on time. Tardy or nonexistent vaccinations, medical officials warn, put entire schools and communities at risk for epidemics of measles or whooping cough.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As the early flu season continues to worsen across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the latest outbreak has killed 29 children so far this year.

"What we're worried about is if (under vaccination) becomes more and more common, is it possible this places children at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases?" study leader Jason Glanz, with Kaiser Permanente Colorado in Denver says.

"It's possible that some of these diseases that we worked so hard to eliminate (could) come back."

For the recent study, Glanz and his colleagues analyzed data from eight managed care organizations, including immunization records for about 323,000 children.

The number of children who were late on at least one vaccine, such as for measles, mumps and rubella and diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shots, rose from 42 percent to an uncomfortable 54 percent.

Babies born towards the end of the study were found to be late on their vaccines for more days, on average, than those born earlier.

"When that happens, it can create this critical mass of susceptible individuals," Saad Omer, from the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta says.

Going against common opinion - that many children don't get vaccinated due to their parents' belief that it may wrongly lead to autism, only one in eight children went under vaccinated due to parental choice. For the rest, it wasn't clear why they were late getting their shots. Some could have bounced in and out of insurance coverage, or may have been ill during their well-child visits, so doctors postponed vaccines.

Under vaccinated kids also tended to have fewer doctors' appointments and emergency room visits than those who got their shots on time. This may be because their parents more often turn to alternative or complementary medicine when it's an option.

Recent studies have shown many parents asking to delay or skip certain vaccines, often citing safety concerns such as a link between vaccines and autism - a theory which scientists now agree holds no water.

"We don't really know if these 'alternative schedules' as they're called are as safe, less safe or more safe than the current schedule, Glanz told Reuters Health.

"We don't have any evidence that there are any safety concerns with the current recommended schedule, and right now the best way to protect your child from infection is to get your child vaccinated on time," he said. Adding to take what you read online with a grain of salt.

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