antagonizing a group that is already very emotional about this topic,” describing firing a patient as an “extreme and shaming act that amounts to patient abandonment.”
Some doctors attempt to take a compromise position. Dr. Monica Asnani, a pediatrician with the Medical Arts Pediatric Medical Group in Los Angeles, has a partial vaccination policy at her clinic – the clinic requires that patients have at least two-thirds of recommended vaccinations. “My philosophy is that if I shut my door completely to people who maybe are on the fence about vaccines or want to do some and not all, they’re just going to find another doctor who will accept them and not educate them. And then I’m not able to protect that child.”
How to Keep Patients Safe?
If doctors do follow AAP guidelines, and continue to allow unvaccinated patients, is there any hope for keeping other patients safe?
Pediatrician Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, argued that doctors could focus on measures to keep ill children separate from the well children, or out of the waiting room until a doctor is available.
Yet it is not always obvious that a child has a contagious disease like measles, where the telltale rash doesn’t appear for three to five days after the fever begins. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control recommends that the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine not be received until 12 to 15 months. The chances of an unvaccinated person getting measles after coming near someone infected with the disease is 90 percent.
As the anti-vaccination movement continues forward, it seems clear that this debate is not going to resolve soon. “It’s a difficult question for pediatricians,” said Dr. O’Leary. “I don’t know what the right answer is personally.”