Vaccinations- Should Docs "Fire" Families That Refuse?

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Registered: 07-05-2005
Vaccinations- Should Docs "Fire" Families That Refuse?
Thu, 09-06-2012 - 10:26am

Can you imagine being dumped by your pediatrician? More and more doctors are "firing" patients -- refusing to treat children whose parents refuse or delay vaccinations.

There's a medical reason: An unvaccinated 4-year-old with whooping cough in a doctor's waiting room could infect a young infant who hasn't yet been vaccinated. Some doctors say they don't want to put their other patients at unnecessary risk. While numerous studies have shown no increased risk of autism from vaccines, many parents remain concerned.

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What do you think? Should doctors have the right to "fire" patients when their parents refuse to vaccinate?  Is anyone here planning to delay or refuse vaccinations?  If so, have you discussed your decision with your doctor yet? Have you had any issues with your pediatrician regarding your decision?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2011

I don't really understand why it would apply to delayed vaccination children.  To my knowledge, delayed vaccination is only used in non-deadly diseases that were once common like chicken pox. 

Also, what happens to the kids that are just behind on their vaccine schedule?  There are lots of struggling parents who fall behind on getting their children to the doctor.  By the time they get around to it, sometimes the kid is a year or even a few years behind on getting all their shots.  So what happens when that mom gets her act together and finally takes her child in to get them?  Technically that child would be unvaccinated, even though they may in fact be at the doctor to get caught up.

And what about the young children who are too sick to get vaccines exactly on time?  At least at my pediatrician, if a child is very sick at vaccination time, the pediatrician will say, "Let's wait and do this shot next time, it's not a good idea to give a shot to a sick child with a fever."  Technically that child will be unvaccinated, even though there's a good reason for it.

What if an unvaccinated child shows symptoms of a life-threatening disease?  These are the children that the vaccination policy is meant to exclude.  But aren't they the children that need the most help?  On the surface a vaccination policy looks good.  But would any human really be able to turn away a child with a disease like that, knowing the consequences could be deadly?

I guess my point is that I don't like universal policies.  I believe a doctor is a businessman, and therefore has a right to pick and choose clients.  But there is no univeral policy that can apply to every situation.  I think each case needs to be looked at individually.  The main priority should be getting all children access to healthcare.  If a child is turned away, they should be given a referal to another source of healthcare.  Doctors can set whatever rules and policies they want, as long as they realize that occasionally these rules need to be broken.

Momma to:
Madelyn, February 26, 2001
Aaron, January 2, 2005
Baby #3, October 2, 2012

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2006

I believe doctors, like any other type of professional, should be able to choose their clients based on whatever criteria they'd like.

It is unfortunate that parents of unvaccinated children may have a harder time finding a ped? Yes. But that's a consequence of choosing not to vax, as far as I'm concerned. You have the choice to do what you will with your children, but doctors also have the choice to see your family or not. Not to be flip, but the reality is that choices have consequences, them's the breaks.

All that being said, the ped I'm considering has a policy of seeing unvaccinated children, or children on a delayed/selective vaccination schedule. She believes it's unethical to refuse care to a child based on the choices of the parents and has a policy statement to that effect on her website. Which I'm totally fine with - as the professional with her own practice, it's her right to make that choice. As it's another doctor's right to make a different choice.