How pediatricians should handle families who refuse vaccines

How pediatricians deal with families who refuse to vaccinate their kids is a contentious issue.

There are some offices, for instance, that flat out refuse to treat kids who parents say “no” to vaccines. But is taking such a hard line wise?

A recent piece from the Wall Street Journal looks at the issue. According to the former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ bio-ethics committee, “the vast majority of physicians just agree to disagree.” The data appears to support that approach.

A 2006 study found that “74% of members who participated had one or more parents refuse at least one vaccination in the past year; 32% of those parents changed their minds after education efforts from the doctor. Only about 16% of pediatricians said they sometimes discharge families if the parents won’t relent.”

Having almost one-third of families actually change their mind when it comes to vaccines is encouraging.

That alone is reason enough to keep families who initially refuse to vaccinate their kids. Perhaps once they see an increasing number of stories chronicling measles or polio outbreaks, they’ll stand a better chance at listening to reason from their pediatrician.

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