October 17, 2016
2 min read

Influenza vaccine uptake lower in children using certain CAM practices

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Children who have used certain complementary and alternative medicines domains had lower annual influenza vaccine rates, according to data published in Pediatrics.

“Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to health that are not considered part of conventional medicine have recently risen in popularity as a form of health care,” William K. Bleser, PhD, MSPH, from the department of health policy and administration at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues wrote. “A study of vaccine uptake (not including influenza) in Washington from 2000 to 2003 found that children who saw a naturopathic physician or chiropractor were less likely to receive recommended vaccines and more likely to be diagnosed with vaccine-preventable diseases, suggesting children who use CAM may be less likely to be vaccinated against influenza.”

To determine an association between CAM use with influenza vaccination among children in the U.S., Bleser and colleagues identified 10,218 children aged 4 to 17 years who were part of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine File of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. The researchers evaluated data on odds of influenza vaccination among children whose parents reported they used, in the past 12 months, the following CAM domains: alternative medical systems; biologically-based therapies (excluding multivitamins and multiminerals); multivitamins/multiminerals; manipulative and body-based therapies; and mind-body therapies.

Among children ever using alternative medical systems (eg, acupuncture, naturopathy etc.), influenza vaccine uptake was lower compared with those who didn’t (33% vs. 43%; P = .008). The same was true for children ever using manipulative and body-based therapies, such as chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation (35% vs. 43%; P = .002). Children who used multivitamins/multiminerals had a higher influenza vaccine uptake than those who did not (45% vs. 39%; P < .001).

In a multivariate analysis, use of multivitamins/multiminerals lost significance. However, children who ever used any alternative medicine service (OR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44-0.85) and children who ever used manipulative and body-based therapies (OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.58-0.94) still had lower influenza vaccine uptake.

There was no association between influenza vaccine uptake and other CAM domains.

“In our sample, the second most prevalent type of [alternative medicine service] was naturopathy, and the most prevalent type of [manipulative and body-based therapy] was chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation,” the researchers wrote. “These specific types of CAM may require contact with CAM practitioners shown to have vaccine-critical viewpoints, advise against vaccination, or advise vaccine schedules different from those recommended by the federal government.” – by Kate Sherrer

Disclosure: Bleser provides consultation on mumps vaccine litigation unrelated to this study. All other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.