These Doctors Are Refusing to Treat Families Who Won’t Vaccinate

As the anti-vaccination movement continues to grow, physicians are faced with a dilemma. Should they treat the unvaccinated patients and risk exposing their well patients? Or should they protect those who are unable to be vaccinated from the possibility of disease.

widely-publicized outbreak in 2015 linked to Disneyland.  The Disneyland outbreak spread to six states and sickened 147 people.

To Treat or Not to Treat

This uptick in preventable diseases has caused many parents to look to their pediatricians for help. But not in the way you might think. Some parents are putting pressure on pediatricians to stop seeing families who refuse to vaccinate.

“The families essentially are saying I don’t want to bring my child to a practice that accepts non-vaccinators because I don’t want my kid getting sick in the waiting room,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Children’s Hospital Colorado. (Credit: Source.)

Doctors may also experience tension when faced with patients who act counter to their medical knowledge and advice. “If parents don’t believe me when this is a slam dunk that vaccinations are a benefit to each and every child, you wonder if they will trust you on other things,” said Dr. Peter Liber, of Wheaton Pediatrics in Illinois.

This pressure puts doctors in a tough spot. “It’s an ethical dilemma in the sense that there are two choices and neither of them are optimal,” said Dr. Eric Kodish, a bioethicist and pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic.

A Growing Number of Physicians Refuse to Treat Unvaccinated Children

While the vast majority of doctors do not turn away unvaccinated children, a growing population of doctors do. A recent study by the journal Pediatrics found that 1 in 5

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