Most Doctors Give In to Requests by Parents to Alter Vaccine Schedules

A wide majority of pediatricians and family physicians acquiesce to parents who wish to delay vaccinating their children, even though the doctors feel these decisions put children at risk for measles, whooping cough and other ailments, a new survey has found.

Physicians who reluctantly agreed said they did so to build trust with families and to avoid losing them as patients.

The survey, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, asked a nationally representative sample of 534 primary care physicians in 2012 how often parents in their practices postponed one or more vaccinations for children younger than age 2.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that children be vaccinated for 14 diseases before age 6 on a schedule, which entails roughly 29 shots, sometimes several at once.

Ninety-three percent of doctors reported that in any given month, they had been asked at least once to delay vaccines. A fifth said more than 10 percent of parents in their practices had asked them to delay vaccines.

Dr. Omer said doctors should be paid separately for vaccine counseling in cases where a “substantial proportion of time is being spent on vaccines.”

In addition to compensation, Dr. Kempe said, vaccine counseling should begin during a woman’s pregnancy, and pro-vaccine parents — perhaps even celebrities — should star in marketing campaigns to help “reinforce vaccination as a social norm.”

A version of this article appears in print on March 2, 2015, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Most Doctors Give In to Requests by Parents to Alter Vaccine Schedules. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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