The decision to vaccinate a child shouldn’t really be a hard one to make. In fact, I don’t really think it should be a decision at all. Vaccines have been proven time and time again to be both very safe and extremely effective. And yet some people still choose not to have their children vaccinated. Personally, I think that’s a very bad decision.
There is SO MUCH bad information out there regarding vaccines, it’s very disheartening. Of course there’s good information, but the bad info is much easier to find. And it’s presented in a way that appeals to that person’s very basic instinct: to shield their child from possible harm. So as I think about it, it seems to me that most (if not all) of these people are doing it for what for them seems like a good reason
The problem is that they not only compromise their child’s health based on faulty information, but they contribute to a loss in herd immunity. This leads to the cases we hear in the news about vaccine preventable diseases affecting communities with low vaccine compliance. These cases are almost entirely avoidable.
Doctors have always taken the matter seriously, but recently, many pediatricians have been parting ways with patients of theirs who refuse to vaccinate. A story in The Wall Street Journal earlier this week reported on a rise in doctors refusing or “firing” patients who do not comply to the CDC and AAAP’s vaccine schedule.
In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason. By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they “routinely” stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% “sometimes” dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I completely agree with the pediatricians’ decision not to see unvaccinated children. Having an unvaccinated child in a doctor’s waiting room full of other children, some sick, is downright dangerous. Both for the unvaccinated child and the other people present.
There’s also an issue of trust. If parents don’t trust their doctor’s medical advice on one subject, why would they trust them on another? There should be a high level of trust there between doctor and patient.
When and if I have children, this will absolutely be one of the factors in choosing a pediatrician. I want to be able to trust that my child’s health is in good hands, and what better hands than someone’s who is willing to give up a select group of patients for the safety of the majority of her or his other patients? I’ll be looking for a doctor who practices science-based medicine.
So what do you guys think? Do you agree with the decision these doctors are making? There is certainly an argument to be made for both sides.
photo by: UNICEF Sverige