Child vaccine refusals on the rise in the U.S.

More U.S. parents are refusing or delaying vaccinations for their children, a study presented May 4 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver has revealed.

According to the study, the rate of parents who refused or delayed vaccinations jumped significantly from 22 to 39 percent between 2003 and 2008.

According to Phillip Smith of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the information was garnered from the 2008 National Immunization Survey. The survey asked parents if they had refused or delayed a vaccine and if so why.

According to the study results, 31 percent of parents with 24 to 35-month-old children intentionally refused vaccines and 12 percent intentionally delayed vaccines in 2008.

Reasons varied as to why parents refused or delayed vaccines. A large percent of parents - 44 percent - who participated in the study refused or delayed immunizations because their child was ill. Another 26 percent of parents who declined or delayed vaccines had questions about the effectiveness of the vaccines, 24 percent were worried about possible side-effects and overall safety of the vaccines and 25 percent had concerns regarding the link between autism and vaccines.

Parents that refused or delayed vaccines were significantly less likely to believe that their children were susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases over parents who were up to date with their children’s vaccines, the report said.

“Children whose parents delay or refuse vaccinations may be at increased risk of not receiving all recommended vaccine doses by 19 months and thus more vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases,” the study concluded, CBCNews reports.

The vaccines included in the study were for diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis vaccine, polio, measles-mumps-rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B and varicella.