A closer look

New study shows some parents are still hesitant to give their children vaccines

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A new study shows that one-third of children between 19 and 35 months old do not receive their vaccines on time, according to ABC News

Of these vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of illnesses on their website that they recommend children are vaccinated against in their first three years of life.

“Chickenpox Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, Measles, mumps and rubella, Polio, Pneumococcal disease (and) Hepatitis A” are these such illnesses, the article by ABC News said. 

However, Yalda Safai, a contributor to the ABC’s news medical unit, said even though vaccinations are designated as an “effective public health intervention,” parents are still choosing not to vaccinate their children.

On the CDC website under the tab “Why Vaccinate,” they include information for parents about making the decision to vaccine and the risks of delaying or skipping the vaccines altogether. 

“On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases,” a statement on the website said. “Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.”

Despite these assurances, Safai said this new study confirms that misinformation about vaccines may be contributing to parents’ hesitancy around them. 

In September of 2019, Facebook and Instagram took steps to combat sources of misinformation on social media. 

According to another ABC News article, if people search for vaccine information on either social media platform, they will be encouraged to seek information from the CDC or World Health Organization.

WHO recently listed its top ten “urgent” global health challenges for 2020 and “Earning public trust” remains one of them.

“Public health is compromised by the uncontrolled dissemination of misinformation in social media, as well as through an erosion of trust in public institutions,” WHO said. “The anti-vaccination movement has been a significant factor in the rise of deaths in preventable diseases.”  

In early January of 2020, an Oregon based newspaper called Willamette Week reported about an electronic billboard that displayed several anti-vaccination ads. 

“Why are fully vaccinated students getting the whooping cough?” and “1 in 5 kids in E.R. for drug side effects are vaccine induced” were the statements on the ads, the article said. 

Jay Rosenbloom, a Portland, Ore. pediatrician, told Willamette Week in an interview that the ads were “frustrating” because they were “such a misrepresentation.”

“I worry about children getting harmed from measles and meningitis,” Rosenbloom said. 

At the end of December 2019, officials of the Seattle Public Schools sent out letters to 2,274 students. The letters warned students that they would be barred from going to school if they did not provide a medically verified record of receiving their immunization shots before their classes resumed on Jan. 8. 

A measles outbreak prompted the school district to take such action. According to ABC News, a statement on the school district’s website said students who missed days of school for not having their required immunizations would have unexcused absences. 

Amidst the new study confirming one-third of children between 19 and 35 months old do not receive their vaccines on time, Safai said the study also encourages a continual effort to lower the number of children impacted by vaccine hesitancy. 

“Authors of the study highlight a need for interventions to minimize vaccine delays that put children’s health and public health at risk,” Safai said. 

For more information about vaccines, refer to the CDC’s website.

Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected].