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More Children Missing Recommend Vaccines

< Jan. 23, 2013 > -- Vaccinations have helped stem and even stop the spread of serious childhood diseases, such as measles and polio. They continue to be one of the best tools parents have to keep their children healthy. Yet, a new study suggests that too few U.S. children younger than age 2 are receiving all the shots they need.

Photo of young child getting vaccinated

Nearly half not properly vaccinated

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente reviewed the vaccination records of more than 320,000 children born between 2004 and 2008. They found that close to half of the children - almost 49 percent - were considered undervaccinated. That means either they did not receive all the recommended shots or they received some of them late.

An even more concerning fact? This trend seems to be increasing. Researchers found that one in eight parents chose not to follow the recommended vaccination schedule. As a result, more children are facing longer periods of time without being properly protected from childhood diseases.

"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," say the researchers, whose study was published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. "They choose to vaccinate their children according to alternative schedules."

Health cost from delay

Children who aren't properly vaccinated may face greater health risks. Researchers found that children not fully vaccinated were less likely to see their doctor. They were also more likely to be hospitalized compared with children who received all their shots according to the standard schedule.

Other research has found that children who aren't vaccinated are nine times more likely to become infected with chickenpox. They also face a much higher risk - 23 times more - for whooping cough, a highly contagious disease that has been on the rise. It can be especially deadly for children younger than 6 months.

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Recommended Vaccinations for Your Child

Vaccines work by exposing the body to weak or dead versions of disease-causing germs or viruses. The immune system then builds up resources to fight those bugs in the future. Your child's health care provider can give you an immunization schedule specifically for your child.

The CDC recommends this schedule:

  • Hepatitis B: birth, 1 to 2 months, and 6 to 18 months

  • Rotavirus: 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months

  • DTaP: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, 4 to 6 years

  • Tdap: 11 to 18 years (preferably 11 to 12 years) for children who have had the DTaP shots; 7 to 10 years for children who haven't had all of their DTaP shots

  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal vaccine: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months

  • Polio: 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years

  • Flu: Yearly beginning at 6 months

  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and varicella (chickenpox): 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years

  • Hepatitis A: 12 to 23 months

  • Meningococcal (MCV): 11 to 12 years; booster shot at 16 years

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): 11 to 12 years

Special schedules are available for high-risk children or those who fall behind on their vaccines.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Academy of Family Physicians - Childhood Vaccines: What They Are and Why Your Child Needs Them

CDC - For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Vaccines.gov