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Should Pediatricians Refuse to Treat Patients Who Don’t Vaccinate?

Parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children can be a sore subject for doctors. The question bubbled up again this spring at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Annual Leadership Forum, where academy leaders vote on issues of concern to pediatricians across the country.

Two of the top three resolutions this year were about vaccine refusal. One requested a policy statement calling for the elimination of nonmedical exemptions to the requirement that children be immunized to attend school and day care. The other asked the academy to support “pediatricians who decide to discharge patients after a reasonable, finite amount of time working with parents who refuse to immunize their children according to the recommended schedule, or who fail to abide by an agreed-upon, recommended catch-up schedule.”

This is a strategy for private practices, where families have some choice about which doctors to patronize; “safety net” clinics which serve poor children, cannot “exclude” families in this way. And studies have shown that in this country, those who don’t vaccinate tend to be affluent, white and suburban.

Read the full story via The New York Times.

Learn more about the Center for Bioethics at Children's Mercy.