Vaccinations are a childhood ritual and provide vital protection against diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and polio, which can be extremely dangerous for young children. But a report, issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found an alarming 28 percent of toddlers have not been vaccinated according to U.S. guidelines.
Elizabeth Luman of the CDC said, "It's not acceptable to have any child improperly or incompletely vaccinated, because that increases their risk of disease and also increases the risk of outbreaks in the community."
RECOMMENDED TIMES FOR YOUR CHILD'S VACCINES: Input your child's age, and this interactive vaccine scheduler will give you a list of recommended dates for all your child's vaccinations.
Earlier this year, measles outbreaks were reported in San Diego, Arizona and Wisconsin. Health officials said the problem was caused by people who had never been vaccinated, usually out of fear of vaccines. But this government survey is surprising because it affects children whose parents actually intended to have them vaccinated and believed that they had been fully vaccinated.
Government guidelines call for toddlers to get a series of at least 17 injections, protecting them against 15 different diseases. But the survey found that one in five children was actually missing one or more doses.
Do you know which vaccinations your child is missing? CLICK HERE for a step-by-step guide to obtaining and understanding your child's immunization records.
And according to Dr. Lara Danziger-Isakov of the Cleveland Clinic, "Missing even a single dose may impair your immunity."
But mis-timing vaccination doses is also a problem. The government has an exact schedule for when each shot needs to be given. But the study found that one in twelve children got at least one vaccination too early in life.
"If you give them the vaccine at the wrong time, their immune system may not be developed enough to respond to that vaccine, and they may not develop immunity," Danziger-Isakov said.
Want to learn more about childhood vaccines? CLICK HERE for a backgrounder.
Pediatricians say giving vaccines earlier than recommended is often done out of convenience.
Some researchers said today's report should serve as a wake-up call to parents and pediatricians because much more needs to be done to ensure children get the full benefits and protection of these lifesaving vaccines.
Did you know an immunization registry can keep track of your child's records? CLICK HERE for more information.