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Turning Away Patients for Refusing Vaccines

Pete Springer/OPB

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There is a growing trend among some pediatricians to turn away families who refuse to vaccinate their kids. One study found that as many as 39 percent of pediatricians would dismiss families that refused all vaccinations. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against not treating patients solely due to immunization differences.

The movement counters the rising belief that vaccines can cause health problems for children. In 2007, 25 percent of Ashland kindergarteners were exempted from at least one immunization. Oregon as a whole (along with Washington and Alaska) is in the top five states with the highest exemption rate at 5.4 percent.

Some doctors say dismissing anti-vaccination families is counter-productive, as physicians are the most likely people to change parents’ minds. But pediatricians that refuse families cite health concerns for the other patients in their waiting rooms, and say it sends a clear message to the parents that they don’t support choices that may harm public health.

Are you a pediatrician? Would you recommend families to see another physician if they refused to vaccinate their children? Are you a parent that has been turned away for your vaccination beliefs? Do you know what your pediatrician’s vaccination policy is? Do you agree with it?

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OPB | Broadcast: Oct. 18, 2011