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Spacing Out Vaccines: What Happens When You Do It Your Way

Some parents delay recommended vaccinations. (sabianmaggy/Flickr)

Some parents delay recommended vaccinations. (sabianmaggy/Flickr)

Here’s a scenario that should be familiar to parents of very young children.

Your baby is 2 or 4 months old. You’re at the pediatrician’s office for your child’s “well-baby” visit. Everything goes well, the doctor asks about how the baby is eating, sleeping and then, come the vaccines.

At some of these visits, the child may receive shots for five or six different diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a suggested vaccination schedule, and most doctors follow it. Now, for the majority of parents, it’s not a problem. But a growing number of parents are not following the schedule. They’re getting their children vaccinated on alternative schedules, reducing the number of shots their child receives at any one time–or spacing out the number of months between the shots.

But what are the consequences when families deviate from doctor’s recommendations? And why are so many parents doing it?

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  • Kathy

    Just more idiotic anti-vax stuff. It’s irresponsible to put this on the air.

    • Cindy Santaria

      Kathy,
      You’re simply an idiot.

  • NONvaxingMOM

    How is this irresponsible??? Seems to be pretty pro-vax to me. Also, what Dr. Sears said about the companies who profit from the use of vaccines being the ones who are testing them for safety… sorry but I can’t trust that research. I want to see unbiased scientific research on vaccines.

    • Kathy

      Refusing to vaccinate is sheer idiocy and ignorance. You’re endangering all of us with your medieval insanity. Any parent who refuses to vaccinate their kids is morally guilty not only of child abuse, but of murder if anyone dies from outbreaks.

      It’s the height of irresponsibility on behalf of Radio Boston to “report the debate.” There’s no debate. There’s no issue. It’s just a lot of anti-science rubbish.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Not true Kathy, your logic is flawed.  People who are vaccinated should have no worries about being endangered by non-vaccinated folks.

        Well, you should be worried of course if you don’t think the vaccines work.

      • Concerned Citizen

        One more thing, Kathy.  Did you even take the 5 minutes to read the article I provided a link for?

        There certainly should be a debate about this, there’s certainly an issue.

        By claiming something is “anti-science rubbish” doesn’t make it so.  Providing data/evidence as to how this is “anti-science rubbish” makes it so.  Do you have any on hand?

      • Meghna Chakrabarti

        Kathy,

        Thank you for your comment. But just to be clear, this wasn’t a conversation about people who refuse outright to vaccinate their children. Our intent was to discuss why people choose an alternative vaccination schedule, and the consequences of such choices. And when a sizeable percentage of parents are considering alternative schedules, it seems to me an issue worth discussing.

        • Kathy

          I very soundly disagree. There are ways you could have done that, but you didn’t. Instead it was yet another example of the media granting false equivalence to pseudo-science in the guise of balance. 

          • Meghna Chakrabarti

            Hi Kathy,

            I respect your disagreement. But please know that I’ve got three degrees in science and engineering. In no way would I ever grant false equivalence to pseudo-science, as you put it. Not even in the name of balance. 

            We never once said “vaccines are bad”. Both our guests advocated that all children should be vaccinated. Sears has an alternative schedule,  yes – but I asked him if his schedule is backed by scientific studies that prove its efficacy. Perhaps his answer didn’t satisfy.

            Both doctors agreed that part of the problem is that the language around this issue devolves so quickly into paranoia and name calling. On that point, I’d agree. How can insightful discussions be had when one side instantly calls the other “anti-science”, and the other returns with accusations of “medical conspiracies”? 

            I’m curious to know what are the alternative approaches to this topic you’d rather have heard. I’m always grateful for that kind of feedback. Thanks again.

          • Dr HSM

            Meghna:

            I am a pediatrician and feel that it was a great program. One comment about herd immunity and also the question about why do vaccinated people worry about those who don’t vaccinate? If any given vaccine is used, about 95% of the population produces immunity. The other 5% do not and will not be protected from the disease. That is acceptable when over 90% of people vaccinate. When the number of people who vaccinate decline (the number who refuse all vaccines has remained steady at 0.5% according to CDC data but the number delaying is increasing at a steady rate); it is important to understand that theses diseases have not been eliminated. When vaccine rates fall below a threshold, it is easier to find the kids who did not produce immunity, not to mention the children who are immunocompromised from cancer, immune deficiencies etc. I also feel that babies under 12 months are in a way immunocompromised as their immune system has not fully developed, and even if they produce immunity from a vaccine it may not be until the 2nd to 4th dose.

            To those who want to split the vaccines I will do that and I will say that doctors make more money by splitting them because each office visit generates more income than getting it done in one visit! But… I am successful in convincing almost all parents to not split them because 1) Our practice found that splitting them results in more kids just skipping and never getting their shots putting them at risk. Lastly and most importantly, the sickest kids come to the pediatrician. Every unnecessary visit increases the risk of getting exactly the disease that you are trying to avoid. We do all we can to avoid that, like a sick waiting room and hand sanitizer stations in the office, but doctors offices are still a source for getting infections.

            Finally with regards to the Dr Sears schedule, it is very popular in California. In 2010 we saw more cases of Whooping Cough in California in 2010 than in the last 50 years. Remember that we need a minimum number of children vaccinated to protect herd immunity.

            I spend hours with parents talking about vaccines every day, it is my job and I love it

    • Anonymous

      If you were listening to what Dr. Sears was saying, you would have heard that he is also in favor of giving vaccines.  And if you had listened to what Dr. Palfrey had said, that multiple objective groups have looked at national and international studies on vaccine safety, you would know that there is plenty of unbiased scientific research on vaccines.

  • Concerned Citizen

    It shouldn’t be a surprise folks don’t trust the “medical establishment” with people communicating online and sharing information such as this:  http://www.naturalnews.com/026214.html

    People are able to communicate easier with the Internet, and it’s only natural that people will have more access to information now than before the advent of this technology.  There are folks out there, because of this communication, that strongly believe the “medical establishment” operates under a profit motive, NOT a health motive.  After all, if the “medical establishment’ was truly concerned with health as opposed to profit, then why is the focus NOT on causes of health issues and ways to eliminate the cause?  That would indeed create a healthy population.  It seems the “medical establishment” would rather see people get sick and then treat them…in order to get paid of course.  It’s silly to think that a For-Profit medical industry can successfully make people healthy. 

    If more people were becoming healthier every year, the “medical establishment” would have less patients to treat every year.  How do you think investors would react to this information?  It’s obvious that a requirement needed to grow profits in the medical industry is a sicker population year-after-year. 

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. 

    Vaccines are certainly seen in the same light.  We should all be wary that the vaccines we receive contribute to a sicker population year-after-year.

    In order to make me trust the “medical establishment” they will have to prove to me how it is possible to make more profits year-over-year when the population is healthier every year and the industry has less patients every year.

    • NONvaxingMOM

      Concerned Citizen you have taken the jumbled thoughts in my head and made them look perfect on my computer screen :) What you said here:
       After all, if the “medical establishment’ was truly concerned with health as opposed to profit, then why is the focus NOT on causes of health issues and ways to eliminate the cause?  That would indeed create a healthy population.  It seems the “medical establishment” would rather see people get sick and then treat them…in order to get paid of course.  It’s silly to think that a For-Profit medical industry can successfully make people healthy.

       pretty much sums it up for me. I cannot and will not trust anyone, especially someone looking to inject my toddler with killed and live viruses, known carcinogens, known neurotoxins, human and animal DNA, etc etc, who MAKES A LIVING OFF OF PEOPLE BEING SICK! Why is that not the hugest red flag to everybody that the medical industry doe snot want us healthy?

    • confused

      I was sort of following your argument (though not agreeing with it) until you got to the end – “…how it is possible to make more profits year-over-year when the population is healthier every year and the industry has less patients every year. “  So is the medical establishment helping people or not?

      • Concerned Citizen

        The topic isn’t Black & White.  No one can say one or the other.  It’s a little of both.  Of course the “medical establishment” helps people.

        • Kathy

          No, it’s not a little of both. The anti-vaccine people are wrong. Plain and simple wrong.

    • Kathy

      That’s not sharing information, that site is complete nonsense. That’s sharing paranoia, misinformation, and superstition. 

      • Another guest

        I agree that the site is nonsense, but the article it refers to (which is what Concerned Citizen should have cited) is a reasonable one.  A quick search of the author, Tom Jefferson, shows that he is a physician who has had a beef with the influenza vaccine industry for a long time.  He raises many valid points.  However, the influenza vaccine is quite different than the other vaccines that we are talking about – we know the influenza vaccine isn’t particularly effective, and this is because of the nature of the virus. 

        I still think it’s ludicrous to claim that the “medical establishment” is deliberately making people sicker in order to make more money.  There are far easier ways to make money than being a doctor, hospital, or drug company.

  • NONvaxingMOM

    Really? So what can you tell me about vaccines? How do they work? What are the ingredients and how do they react with the body? What are the risks? Please, enlighten me, seeing as you know so much and so much about what I don’t know. Do you have kids, Kathy?

    • Guest

      My funeral home thanks you.

  • Guest

    We DEMANDED that our Dr. not deal with those crazy parents or we would choose another Dr. It’s that simple, these parents are idiots and putting all of us at risk.  No admission to private schools, Dr. Offices or any public space we can control. We have private parks that make that easier. These people are totally NUTS.

    • Concerned Citizen

      If you are vaccinated what are you worried about?  You are protected.  You are merely displaying histrionics.

      • Another guest

        The problem is that there are many people – infants, people with immunodeficiency, people receiving immunosuppressive medications, etc. etc. who cannot be vaccinated.   These people have plenty of reason to be worried when those around them stop vaccinating.

        • Concerned Citizen

          Your logic makes no sense to me.  If there are folks out there who “cannot be vaccinated” then why should someone worry about another person choosing not to get vaccinated?

          If a certain percentage of the population is not vaccinated due to the issues you mention…then I don’t see why other folks who choose to get decline vaccination poses a problem.  All that means is that the percentage of folks not vaccinated increases a bit.  The rate of interaction between un-vaccinated folks and vaccinated folks will be pretty much the same.

          How about the folks who are concerned about the dangers of getting vaccinated?  It is in that concern where lies the danger and worry people should have.

          It’s easy to NOT have an agreement about topics such as these when the “medical establishment” provides no answers as to the causes of the diseases these vaccines are supposed to prevent.  Treat the cause and you eliminate the need for any vaccine.  Simple.

          • Another guest

            “then I don’t see why other folks who choose to get decline vaccination poses a problem.   All that means is that the percentage of folks not vaccinated increases a bit. ”

            I wish that that were true.  Unfortunately, because of all the internet/Jenny McCarthy blather about vaccines, the percentage of parents choosing not to vaccinate is increasing rapidly.  Some areas of Washington state have ~30% of kids that are not fully vaccinated.  This is far more than enough to allow mini-epidemic spreads of contagious disease, and that is exactly what is being seen. 

            So it is precisely because some people cannot be vaccinated that it is ever more critical that those who can, do.  It is the immunocompromised patients who cannot be vaccinated that are most at risk if their community fails them.

            As far as providing answers for what causes autism, diabetes, food allergies, etc. etc. – again I wish that this was as simple as everyone seems to believe it should be.  There is quite a lot left to learn about the human body.  But what has been studied ad nauseum is vaccines, and they have been shown over and over again to have little or no relationship to these diseases. 

  • NONvaxingMOM

    If choosing not to shoot my kid up with toxins in hopes that he won’t get sick, while instead building up a strong, natural immune system in him makes me nuts  CALL ME NUTS! :)

    • Guest

      I do not care what you do, as long as you have NO ACCESS to my children. That is the battle that we are fighting. You can home school your children but you cannot expose my children to your risky children. That is my only point… not to be exposed to dangerous, uneducated people. Enjoy.

      • Matt434

         In your child is vaccinated, what is the problem with being ‘exposed’. Obviously, you will be protected, or what is the point in vaccinating? Logic please. Stop being a sheep. Do some research in, for example, measles and the rate at which vaccinated children get the illness more than vaccinated. Deny this if you like, but my first point is just logic.

      • The shiznit

        Um, that’s circle talk. Not trying to insult you, but why are you worried about unvaccinated children being around your vaccinated ones? Obviously, if your’s are vaccinated, then they have nothing to worry about right? There is no logic here. Suddenly the ones who were protected from the disease are now pointing fingers at the ones who not protected as if they can somehow harm them. Please wake up. They are trying to kill you.

  • NONvaxingMOM

    the medical establishment is making tons and tons of money off of people being sick. so, no. for the most part they are not helping

  • NONvaxingMOM

    I didn’t say I agree 100% with Dr Sears. When my son’s doctor and come in and actually explain to me how and why the vaccines work, show me the unbiased studies proving them safe and effective, and convince me that the risk of not vaccinating is greater than the risk of vaccinating… than I’ll have my son vaccinated. Until then I remain a skeptic and apparently a nut.

  • NONvaxingMOM

    I meant then not than. I can’t believe I did that haha such a pet peeve of mine!

  • catihe

    Dog owners have been spacing out vaccines for a few years now

  • Dr HSM

    Meghna:

    I am a pediatrician and feel that it was a great program. One comment about herd immunity and also the question about why do vaccinated people worry about those who don’t vaccinate? If any given vaccine is used, about 95% of the population produces immunity. The other 5% do not and will not be protected from the disease. That is acceptable when over 90% of people vaccinate. When the number of people who vaccinate decline (the number who refuse all vaccines has remained steady at 0.5% according to CDC data but the number delaying is increasing at a steady rate); it is important to understand that theses diseases have not been eliminated. When vaccine rates fall below a threshold, it is easier to find the kids who did not produce immunity, not to mention the children who are immunocompromised from cancer, immune deficiencies etc. I also feel that babies under 12 months are in a way immunocompromised as their immune system has not fully developed, and even if they produce immunity from a vaccine it may not be until the 2nd to 4th dose.

    To those who want to split the vaccines I will do that and I will say that doctors make more money by splitting them because each office visit generates more income than getting it done in one visit! But… I am successful in convincing almost all parents to not split them because 1) Our practice found that splitting them results in more kids just skipping and never getting their shots putting them at risk. Lastly and most importantly, the sickest kids come to the pediatrician. Every unnecessary visit increases the risk of getting exactly the disease that you are trying to avoid. We do all we can to avoid that, like a sick waiting room and hand sanitizer stations in the office, but doctors offices are still a source for getting infections.

    Finally with regards to the Dr Sears schedule, it is very popular in California. In 2010 we saw more cases of Whooping Cough in California in 2010 than in the last 50 years. Remember that we need a minimum number of children vaccinated to protect herd immunity.

    I spend hours with parents talking about vaccines every day, it is my job and I love it

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

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