Are kids being properly immunized?

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
April 29, 2008 4:48:54 PM PDT
There is new information about just how many children aren't properly vaccinated, even though their parents might think they are.Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Some parents may miss appointments or schedule them before or after their child should get a shot. Those factors might explain the findings of a new government study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Prevention is the word, especially for the youngest.

Eleven-month-old Wallace Lynch doesn't have a care in the world. Of course, he's not aware that his mom has brought him to the doctor for one of his childhood vaccinations. Her reasons reflect those of the majority of parents.

"To protect him against a number of diseases, and they help build up his immune system," mom Dawniece Johnson said.

However, making his immune system stronger didn't convince him of the value of the shots. He cried after being pricked.

However, not being convinced of the shots' value seems to have affected about a quarter of families in this country, says the study. It found that one in four children are not getting the vaccinations they need. It was based on 17,000 2-year-olds and their vaccine histories. So what explains the results?

"It may be missing appointments, it may be concern about vaccines, some parents decide to delay vaccinations," said Dr. Larissa Hirsch, of New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. "So it's most likely a combination of factors."

But New York kids like Wallace have a better chance than those across the country.

The good news is that New York City is doing better than the rest of the country in getting kids vaccinated. As a matter of fact, the completed immunization rates have gone from 11 percent in 2006 to 80 percent in 2007.

One factor is that the federal government pays for the shots for some parents, many of whom live in New York. The recent measles outbreak underscores the need to protect our kids.

"In an area like New York, where we're constantly ecountering people from everywhere, we are able to be infected with things that they come into the country with," Dr. Hirsch said.

The city's Department of Health said Tuesday that the measles outbreak was started by an infected traveler who entered the city. They added that the city's excellent vaccination record is mainly due to a city computer registry that helps doctor's track a child's vaccination history.