Anti-vaccine parents keep multiplying. According to a new study, parents keep asking pediatricians to delay childhood vaccines or refuse ever to vaccinate their kids.

The new research, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that ninety percent of the country’s pediatricians had encountered (at least once) parents that refused all kinds of vaccinations in 2013, an important rise from the seventy-five percent who did seven years earlier.

This image shows a 17-month-old child receiving an immunization from a nurse. Image Credit: Georgia Tech

This means that one in every five parents is denying their child the vaccinations that could save their lives. Jon Almquist, a pediatrician, and clinical professor emeritus at University of Washington stated he was “a little bit surprised at the percentage of the general population that were delaying vaccines.”

Almquist, 76, co-authored the research, which analyzed six hundred surveys filled by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), both in 2006 and again in 2013.

Ignorance is bliss (and sickness)

The research also found that the main reason parents do not vaccinate their children is that they think is “not necessary.” For Almquist, that is simply craziness, “I’ve been here long enough that I’ve seen the diseases […] we’ve seen the lines when people were dying of flu or polio and when parents had to worry about meningitis.”

Vaccinations prevent diseases that generations ago were the main case of children mortality, rubella, measles, pertussis, mumps, and chickenpox. These shots need to follow schedules that have been verified by scientists, to prevent possible complications in the future.

The cushion of modern life

Almquist believes this attitude comes from the fact that these parents have never been exposed to all these illnesses and complications in their life, and as such, are really unaware of what they imply.

Dr. Catherine Hough-Telford, 32, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and who  has a private practice in Florida has also claimed that pediatricians face vaccine delays and refusal “every day.”

According to the study, the reasons for being anti-vaccine have changed over the course of the research. For example, in 2006 one of the main reasons was the unfounded though that vaccines and autism are related, this idea lost 10% of importance in 2013.

However, the primary reason at the moment is that parents believe vaccines are “unnecessary,” a though that has jumped from sixty-three percent in 2006 to seventy-three percent in 2013.

Vaccine delay is more common in the West, with almost ninety-five percent of the doctors claiming they have encountered anti-vaccine parents, a rise from the eighty-five percent seven years earlier.

Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, who is holding McCarthy’s son, Evan. Image Credit: Slate

Pediatricians are fed up

Many pediatricians have decided to dismiss anti-vaccine parents from their practices. In 2006, six percent of the doctors claimed they “always” threw out parents for refusing or delaying vaccines. Seven years later those numbers have doubled.

Nonetheless, this is against the AAP guidelines, which ask for patience from doctors to patients, advising them to “continued to engage” with this parents with the aim of changing their decision.

Pediatricians and public health officials state the same, vaccines are scientifically proved to be safe, effective and necessary.

“Obviously, this is an issue that nearly every pediatrician now has to face. I think there’s a lot of information about vaccine hesitancy, but there’s no real consensus on what do to other than continue to talk to families,” said  Hough-Telford said.

Sources: Seattle Times