More And More Doctors Are ‘Firing’ Parents Who Refuse Vaccines

by Jerriann Sullivan
Originally Published: 
Fire Parents Who Refuse Vaccines
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Doctors getting more support to fire parents who refuse vaccines

Doctors now have more support than ever from the American Academy of Pediatrics to rightfully fire parents who refuse vaccines. As the number of parents who are vaccine-hesitant has increased so has pediatricians’ desires to let them go as patients.

They’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place as parents refuse something all docs support. “The decision to dismiss a family who continues to refuse immunization is not one that should be made lightly, nor should it be made without considering and respecting the reasons for the parents’ point of view,” a new AAP report entitled, “Countering Vaccine Hesitancy” reads. “Nevertheless, the individual pediatrician may consider dismissal of families who refuse vaccination as an acceptable option.”

On average it takes a doctor 16 weeks to convince a vaccine-hesitant parent to vaccinate their kids. If a parent is refusing vaccines for reasons that are not medically related, they are chipping away at herd immunity — and that’s not okay. Parents of children who cannot tolerate vaccines for medical reasons rely on the rest of us to keep our kids vaccinated, so everyone stays healthy. And the patience of some doctors is wearing thin regarding this very important issue.

“I have two patients in my practice who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons,” Alla Gordina, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Global Pediatrics and Family Medicine told Forbes. “I have to protect them. I have to protect babies who cannot be vaccinated because of their age.” Doctors are also rightfully exhausted from spending months having the same conversation. “I consider immunizations to be a foundation of pediatric practice. If parents disagree with me over that, I find we end up disagreeing over a number of important pediatric principles,” shared Phil Boucher, MD, FAAP, who has a private practice in Nebraska. “The pediatrician-parent-patient relationship is built on trust. If parents don’t trust my medical opinion, it is difficult to maintain that relationship.” He only accepts parents who refuse vaccines during the early newborn period. They get four to six months before being fired as patients.

For years, society’s opinion of vaccines was so favorable that doctors didn’t have to educate a parent constantly about the safety and benefits of them. This new report shows that 73% of parents who refuse vaccines deemed them “unnecessary.” Simply put, a large group of parents is defiant about something they also happen to be very ignorant about. The results come from surveys on immunization that 629 pediatricians in 2006 and 627 pediatricians in 2013 participated in. The report also found that parents who refused all vaccines rose from 2.1% to 3.3%.

Keep in mind that these were taken before the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015. We know that anti-vaxxers are contributing to measles and pertussis outbreaks. Outspoken doctors who’ve done countless media interviews and pediatricians who’ve fired vaccine-refusal parents have helped inform the country tremendously since the Disney crisis.

Herschel Lessin, MD, a senior partner at The Children’s Medical Group told Forbes, the measles crisis along with several other outbreaks across the country have “convinced all but the steadfastly delusional that this is a real and dangerous problem.” Maybe we can use that to inform the rest of the anti-vaxxers. Perhaps a bumper sticker that reads “Don’t be delusional – vaccinate” would do the trick.

If being fired from your doctor doesn’t work, not sure what will.

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