Some Parents Choosing Alternative Vaccine Schedule

Published: Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 2:31pm
Updated: Friday, February 6, 2015 - 7:47am
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A recommendation from the ACIP can start a cascading effect to mandate vaccination for incoming college students across the U.S.

For many parents, the decision to vaccinate is a frightening one. But instead of skipping vaccines altogether, some parents are opting to following a modified schedule. But there are risks to this “pick and choose” approach.

Dr. Amy Shoptaugh is a pediatrician who took an oath to do no harm. But when it comes to the topic of vaccines, it’s a balancing act. On one hand, by accepting patients who have chosen not to vaccinate their child, there’s a risk that child could become sick with a vaccine-preventable disease, walk into her practice and unwittingly infect another child. On the other hand, by accepting these parents, it’s a chance to maybe convince them that vaccines are safe.

"I have many parents coming in with a piece of paper that says at two months I only want to get the the Dtap, and at four months of age I want to get the Prevnar, and they’ll go in with the schedule. And what I do is talk to them about the cons of that, the risk of it, actually of giving a vaccine schedule that is not following the CDC," she said.

Shoptaugh said some parents believe the CDC’s vaccine schedule is too much, that too many vaccines can overwhelm a young immune system. But she said there’s no science backing up that claim.

"It’s kind of like playing Russian Roulette," she said. "OK, I’ll get the pertussis vaccine, but how do you know you’re going to be exposed to pertussis and not be exposed to pneumococcal or haemophilus influenza?"

And that’s the challenge with modifying a vaccine schedule that has been repeatedly studied and deemed safe. 

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