The US research shows some parents are refusing vaccines for diseases like measles and whooping cough, and Reuters reports that health authorities think this trend could increase in years to come.
Experts worry that parents have grown complacent and are underestimating the dangers of childhood illnesses which are making a comeback.
“The vaccines that we recommend have been so effective in largely eliminating the vaccine-preventable diseases that most parents don’t have first, second or even third-hand experience with these diseases,” said Dr Amanda Dempsey, one of the authors of a new report based on the survey from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
She said the risks from diseases like measles are real and rising, and will continue to grow unless parents follow the vaccine schedule.
While some parents are refusing vaccines, others are delaying vaccination because they believe it is safer. The authors of the study say there is no evidence that following alternative schedules is any safer for children.
This surge in measles cases seen in Europe – which have spread to the US, New Zealand, and beyond – have led European authorities to call for “an extraordinary effort” to contain this vaccine-preventable disease.
EU health ministers are also concerned at the apparent fall-off in vaccination rates in some countries and have pledged to step up a Europe-wide effort to reverse the trend.