Your Pediatrician Can ‘Fire’ Your Family For Refusing Vaccinations

vaccinatedThe topic of vaccination is always strife with controversy whether we’re talking about your kids, someone else’s kids, or even school policies. But a growing number of pediatricians are “firing” families for not complying with vaccination recommendations, discontinuing the relationship with parents who can’t accept “this core part of pediatrics.” And if anyone is going to put their foot down on this issue, I suppose it makes sense that it would be the pediatricians.

The Wall Street Journal reports that medical associations in no way encourage turning away patients, but the credo of keeping families in the best of care is incentivizing some to dissolve the patient/family relationship — and in increasing numbers:

In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year, some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason.

By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they “routinely” stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% “sometimes” dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Douglas Diekema, a professor of pediatrics, penned the American Academy of Pediatrics’s policy on dealing with families who refuse vaccines. At present, the policy suggests broaching the issue over several visits with respect until the child is in significant harm. But therein lies the crux of the to vaccinate or not to vaccinate argument, as many pediatricians believe that not vaccinating your child is putting them directly in harm’s way. And given the increased panic over vaccinations possibly causing autism (which has been dismissed by many studies, WSJ reports), parents feel more able to counter doctors on their claims regarding the importance of vaccinations.

David Fenner and his colleagues in Rhinebeck, New York have pretty much a standard line of delivery to families who refuse inoculation, as he tells the publication:

“You’ve been bombarded with information before you came here, some accurate and some not.” If a family refuses to vaccinate after a discussion of the issue, he tells them “there are so many things we’re not going to see eye-to-eye on.”

While it’s concerning that medical associations do not encourage this trend in practices, the doctor’s predicament is clear given their ultimate priority as physicians. If you’re unable to reason with a family so dead set on bunk science after multiple attempts, the priorities of the families and the doctors no longer align. And pediatricians, frankly, no longer want to deal with those who can’t be reasoned with, nor do they want to witness the illness of a child that could have been so easily prevented.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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  • Michelle

    I agree with the pediatricians. They are supposed to do no harm, and to the highly educated it is a great harm to not have children vaccinated. Also, the parents who don’t want their children to be vaccinated probably would want to find a family practice doctor who aligns with their beliefs anyway.

  • Melissa

    I can see where the pediatricians are coming from. They have an entire practice full of kids to be concerned about – they simply do not have the time to spend placating an anti-vaccine family who is probably believing some bad information. Because there is A LOT of untrue information floating around out there making parents terrified of something that has saved a whole lot of lives.

  • Renee J

    I agree with the pediatricians. If I had an infant who was too young for certain vaccinations, I wouldn’t want some kid with whooping cough or another dangerous disease sitting in the same waiting room.

  • Rachael

    Yep, Team Pediatrician here. The risk of passing on a terrible disease is just too great.

  • Jen

    Totally agree with the pediatricians. When I was a new mom I shopped around for the best MD for me. I was looking for more than a competent doctor, I was looking for someone who I felt comfortable working with and who I knew I could trust with my daughter’s health. When I finally settled on a pediatrician (the same man who was my doctor as a child), he had some rules of his own.

    The doctor-patient relationship is so very important that I can’t imagine there being a lack of trust on either side. If you aren’t going to rely on your pediatrician to give you good, sound medical advice—which is what every parent who rejects their MD’s recommendations is saying–why would you want them caring for your child? That’s what I don’t understand about these anti-vaccine people. You rely on your child’s doctor to treat all their various illnesses appropriately, but when it comes down to it you believe they are going to attempt to pump poison into your precious widdle snowflake? It’s just one more layer of illogical in an already bizarre argument.

    • CW

      I don’t put blind faith into the medical establishment to put the well-being of individual children ahead of group interests. Vaccinating as many children as quickly as possibly may be a good thing for society as a whole (the “herd immunity” thing) but that does not mean that the current recommended CDC schedule is what is best for an individual child. The current schedule is more about convenience and cost (spreading out vaccines requires additional office visits) than anything else. Additionally, the fox is the one guarding the hen house because the very scientists who are on the CDC panel that sets the recommended schedule are the ones making millions of dollars off the development of new vaccines. And you expect me to just trust them to set aside their financial conflicts of interest?

    • Reginald Van der Snoot III

      I’d trust people who have had years of study and experience in the field over people who looked up a couple of articles on the Internet and decided that made them the experts…

    • Jen

      Oh CW! You are just the most hilarious person I’ve ever had the *pleasure* of conversing with. You literally take the most ridiculous position on EVERY topic possible. Women are sluts and don’t deserve control over their bodily functions! Doctors are out to get you and should not be allowed to tell you what kind of medicine to take! Religious liberty means I get to tell you what to do and if you try and fight me on it you’re stepping on my rights. Everyone everywhere is out to get you all of the time and you are a sole crusader for taking away everyone else’s rights to autonomy while protecting your own by running the risk of killing tons of sick children.

    • CW

      Unlike you, Jen, I’ve never actually killed a child in my entire life. Contrary to your belief, I’m not anti-vax, just anti the current CDC schedule. My 9 and 6 y.o.’s are fully immunized by this point against all the diseases spread via casual contact with the exception of chickenpox. And if there was a chickenpox vaccine that was not tainted by abortion, I would consider having them get that shot as well. It’s just not a serious enough disease to warrant using an abortion-tainted vaccine. Rubella, by contrast, I do have my kids receive despite the problem I have with the stem cell line used to make the shot because the risk to unborn babies from the disease makes that the more pro-Life stand IMO.

  • Andrea

    And they should fire you. It is for your protection, as well as their and every other child in that practice.

    I surely wouldn’t want my immuno-deficient child (this is theoretical, I don’t have a sick kid) right next to the one that refuses to be vaccinated. And having a healthy child, I STILL do not want him around the non vaccinated one.

    • CW

      Do you take your kids out in public or do you keep them in a hermetically sealed bubble? My mom is in her late 50′s and my dad is in his early 60′s and neither of them has either ever had measles or the MMR vaccine. How many other unvaccinated adults my parents’ age or older are out there? Your child could just as easily catch measles from sitting next to them in church as from an unvaccinated child in a pediatrician’s office. Get a grip!

    • Mel

      “Your child could just as easily catch measles from sitting next to them in church as from an unvaccinated child in a pediatrician’s office. Get a grip!”

      Not if my child is vaccinated the way they are supposed to be. You’re doing your child a disservice by not getting them their proper vaccinations, and quite frankly if/when they get sick from something that could have been prevented, I hope you don’t go bitching about it because it’s your fault in the end.

      Looking at the previous comments, it looks like you’re the only one on here that needs that “grip.”

    • Andrea

      So I’m the one that needs to get a grip? Not the mother of unvaccinated children who chose to risk their lives based on long ago disproved research?

      And for the record, I was really referring to a doctor’s waiting room, where it is extremely likely that there will be infants and other types of children that aren’t vaccinated. The unvaccinated child is for sure a risk to those types of kids.

      As for mine, they are vaccinated and no lady, I do not keep them in a bubble. But just because they are vaccinated doesn’t mean that I would willingly expose them. My pediatrician doesn’t accept children in his practice that won’t consent to vaccination either. And it was one of my 1st questions when I was researching for a pediatrician.

      You are the one that needs a grip.

    • CW

      I actually *DO* have my children receive most of the vaccines, including for measles. They just get them on a more spread out schedule. Many of the folks in our social circle choose not to vaccinate at all, and while I do not personally agree with the parents’ decision to forgo vaccines altogether, I fully support their right to do so. And I don’t feel that my children are at any greater risk from being near the unvaccinated children than they are being out in public in general. They are just as likely to catch a disease IMHO from sitting next to some illegal immigrant on public transit than they are from one of their friends with a crunchy-granola anti-vax mom.

    • Diane

      @CW I’m more afraid of my child catching ignorance from online commenters than catching diseases on public transit. My child is vaccinated against diseases, but hate speech is hard to protect against.

    • CW

      @ Diane: Is it “hate speech” to point out that the recent whooping cough epidemic in California was concentrated among Mexican immigrants? It may not be politically correct to criticize them instead of crunchy granola anti-vaxxers, but it’s the truth.

    • Bree

      Diane, having a spine and getting over it usually does the trick, rather than crying about it. Such thin skin these days… :)

  • Marissa

    Good. If they aren’t taking the advice and care provided by the doctor then what is the point of continuing to see the doctor? None at all. See ya. LOL

  • Jessica

    Fine by me. If my kids’ pediatrician is trying to force me to do something to my children that I have researched for years and do not want done to them, I have no problem firing him. (Since he isn’t paying me, I pay him, therefore, I can fire him, not the other way around.)

    I’m thankful my daughters’ pediatrician supports me in my decision not to vaccinate my family.

    • Bree

      Lol. Have fun when your kid gets sick.

    • Jessica

      Lol. They have pretty bad ass immune systems. I’m not worried. I’m also smart, and we use alternative preventive measures and go as homeopathic as possible. Also, my kids’ pediatrician isn’t the only one in the area who doesn’t push vaccines, and he is up to date on all his research as well. ;)

    • LoveyDovey

      Go talk to someone who was around when polio was killing thousands and then get back to us.

    • KT

      It doesn’t matter how ‘bad ass’ your kids’ immune systems are, studies have shown that almost everyone exposed to measles gets the illness (if they are unvaccinated), and 20 percent of those who get measles require hospitalization. Refusing vaccination puts everyone your children are around at risk. I understand and advocate for the natural, drugs-aren’t-the-cure-for-everything approach, but in my opinion, not vaccinating your children is irresponsible. Pediatricians can and should refuse to treat patients who have not been immunized, for the safety of all the other patients and staff.

    • Catherine

      Re: “LOL. Have fun when your kid gets sick.”

      Really? Laughing about sick kids? Classy.

    • Jessica

      I purposefully held back why I do not vaccinate to show how easy it is for you all to judge an unvaccinated family when you don’t know the whole story. I even had someone mock me, and laugh at my expense over this serious issue. Thank you, Bree, for proving my point for me.

      Vaccinating my children could give them seizures, or cause them to die like I did as a child, needing to be resuscitated by EMTs all due to my vaccinations. Yes, this has been documented. Not everyone wants to share the heavy details of why they are not vaccinating their children, because we all know how those parents are ‘irresponsible’ and putting their children’s life in danger. Both of which are not true in the slightest. But I hope I proved my point. Until you walk a mile in my shoes, don’t you dare for one second think I am doing any less than what is the absolute best thing for my children. I am keeping them alive, by boosting their natural immunity, practicing good hygiene, eating healthy and using homeopathic remedies to keep our bodies strong. I have survived vaccine-free since childhood, because there was no other way to live a healthy life. Vaccines put my life in danger. And likewise the lives of my children. I’m not worried about my kids. You shouldn’t worry about them either.

      And KT, what of pediatricians like my children’s, who do not vaccinate, but require you go through the health department? There are quite a few medical professionals who refuse vaccines for their own children and they are also highly informed and educated on the topic.

    • Jessica

      I’m glad I have proven my point about how easy it is to judge unvaccinated families when you have little to no information on them.

      Vaccinating my kids could kill them. The composition of the vaccines, the ingredients, they work against my children’s natural immunity and cause serious damage, just like vaccines did for me. So me, my children, any future children will all be unvaccinated because vaccines put our lives in danger. And the risk of us getting sick, with our strong natural immune systems is minimal. As I have never been sick aside from vaccine related illnesses. One that almost killed me.

      I hope that my sharing, that my attempt to enlighten, or give a different perspective has in some small way, helped you become less judgmental. Perhaps now instead of thinking how uncaring and uninformed parents of unvaccinated children are, you will think “I wonder if they have a good reason? Maybe they really are doing what is best for their children.”

      And on that note, I am done with this argument. Take care.

    • Bree

      Catherine, honey, learn to comprehend what you read before you post a comment. You’ll look like less of a stupid bitch. :)

      Did I laugh about sick kids? Nope. I laughed at Jessica’s ridiculous comment. Is that clear enough for you? Or do you need it watered down more?

      And, Jessica, no matter how “bad ass” you think your kids’ immune systems are, they WILL get sick at some point in their lives. And when it’s something that could have been prevented by a vaccine, I hope I’m there to laugh in your face. ;)

    • Catherine

      Bree, calling someone a “stupid bitch” is ALSO super classy. Keep up the good work, sweetheart.

    • Jessica

      Bree, did you read the fallowing comment of mine? Vaccinating my children could severely damage them, or kill them. Just as my vaccinations severely damaged and almost killed me. The mixture and ingredients in vaccines work against my children’s strong natural immunity. I was the same way. I haven’t been vaccinated since childhood and I have never had more than a fever or cold. I was trying to prove a point. About how even when parents choose not to vaccinate for the right reason, they are still judged horridly for it, even to the point of you mocking me and lashing out at me, simply because I didn’t want to reveal the heavy details of our decision right away. You can cyber laugh at me all you want, but I know, my daughters’ pediatrician knows, my own physician knows that what we have chosen for our family is in fact the only thing that will work out for the best for all of us. I was trying to shed some light on the judgmental, holier than thou attitude that most vaccinating parents have, no matter what the situation behind another families choice is. It is not unlike bullying done on the middle school play ground. Again, take care. Laugh at my expense all you want.

    • Bree

      Calling it like I see it, Catherine dear. You can stop pissing glitter at any time now.

      And I’ll keep laughing, Jessica, because your kids WILL get sick at some point in their lives whether you like it or not.

    • Jessica

      Bree, I know that, and they will have perfect, un-tampered immune systems to help them fight the illness off. =]

    • Danielle

      Bree, you are an asshole. She just said a vaccine could kill her kids! Start acting like an adult and have some decency. You give all vaccinating parents a bad name.

    • Bree

      Oooh, careful now, Dani, that’s not classy calling someone an asshole ;) Puh-lease. But it’s cute to see how the village idiots band together to defend each other!

    • Michael

      Bree, you are crossing the line, and I agree with Danielle that you are giving vaccinating parents a bad name. I myself am for vaccinations. I think you better have a damn good reason not to vaccinate your kids, but I am also not an idiot. I know that vaccines do have serious reactions for some, and that those who suffer the reactions should be vaccinated under a great deal of supervision, or not vaccinated at all. If Jessica says her children could seize or die from a vaccine (and if in fact that is the truth and her doctor agrees with her like she says) then yes, she is doing what is best for her children. Vaccines are not black and white. Sometimes they can be more harm than good. You’re acting harsh and demeaning is only a slap in the face to everyone, vaccinating parents included.

    • Danielle

      Bree, if you didn’t act like a 15 year old prick I wouldn’t talk to you like one. My nephew died after being given the dtap vaccine. I am not an ‘idiot’ for protecting my children from the same fate. Grow up and have some respect!

  • SaneinSA

    I’m glad to see this and hope more doctors won’t see kids without vaccines. I hope this leads to less kids infecting the general public with who knows what. In a perfect world kids without vaccines wouldn’t go to school or be in public at all.

    • Lisa

      I have immune deficiency. I can not and have never been vaccinated. Forget the unvaccinated kids. Worry about adults like me, who have never had a vaccine in their body because it could kill us, infecting you and your kids. Your life holds much more value than mine. How dare the school district allow me and others like me who can not for whatever reason take vaccines attend public school and how dare the government even let us leave our homes. I should live in a bubble. It is so easy to tell who is up to date on their vaccine research in this thread and who is not.

    • June

      In a perfect world unvaccinated kids wouldn’t be allowed in public?

      How about in a perfect world there wouldn’t be deathly illnesses and no use to pump our bodies full of man made substances that could cause serious damage and death.

    • April

      Wow. SaneinSA, I thought I’d read my share of heartless comments on this site. I have been proven wrong.

    • KT

      @Lisa, I think most of us would agree that a person with an immune deficiency shouldn’t get vaccinated if it would cause a serious reaction. No one thinks that you should live in a bubble just because you didn’t get your MMR. But this helps prove another point of why vaccination matters both for healthy individuals AND immunocompromised people. By vaccinating everyone who can tolerate the vaccine, you prevent/lessen the outbreak of such illnesses among everyone, including people who never got the vaccine. If the population as a whole isn’t susceptible to an illness, outbreaks essentially stop. This article explains why refusing vaccines for healthy people has real, serious consequences

      Also, the whole vaccines-cause-autism thing? A scientific myth. The original article proposing that idea has been retracted, and dozens of studies since have also proven it false.

  • SaneinSA

    I can understand the people with immune deficiencies not being vaccinated. What I don’t understand are the ignorant people who think vaccines are dangerous. Vaccines do not cause autism or whatever stupid belief ant vax people are holding onto. If I think your unvaccinated child can spread a disease that should have been eradicated fifty years ago, then no. I absolutely do not want that child anywhere near me. If your child spreads measles to other people those other people can die from that disease. Unvaccinated children are proven health risks to the people around them and have no business in public nor should I have to chance my health when I go out in public.

    • Danielle

      Vaccines aren’t dangerous? Tell that to my sister who’s son died after his vaccine. And then there’s me. I had seizures after my vaccines as an infant. Luckily, my parents stopped vaccinating me before anything worse happened. I am not ignorant for not vaccinating my kids. I know the risks, and it isn’t worth shooting that shit into their bodies, possibly protecting them from diseases they most likely wont get anyway. You need to brush up on your research. And not just Google.

    • Mel

      “Most likely”… So what would you do if they did happen to catch that disease, Danielle? Sorry, but “most likely will not” is nowhere near the same thing as “will not.”

    • DaisyGirl

      Vaccines give a ‘most likely’ also. As no vaccine is 100%. And thinking a vaccine will keep your child completely safe is ridiculous. I would rather boost my child’s immune system naturally, over man made crap that could kill them like it killed my sister. A disease is nature running it’s course, a vaccine is me putting my child’s life at risk and I would never forgive myself for that.

    • Mel

      Would you be able to forgive yourself if your kid died from a disease when a vaccine could have saved their life? Seriously, think a minute.

    • Jen

      Daisygirl and Danielle: While I understand where your fear might come in if you do in fact have siblings who were killed by vaccines, a LOT more research on your part would behoove you. For one, vaccines have changed a lot, so the ingredient(s) that negatively effected your siblings may not even be in them any longer. If they are you can discuss with your pediatrician and he or she might be able to advise you on whether or not the issue is one that might be genetic and therefore a potential risk to your children. Additionally, the percentage of unvaccinated children who die from diseases that the vaccines protect against is so very much higher than children who have adverse reactions to the vaccine that you are proportionally taking a much bigger risk with your child’s life by choosing not to vaccinate.

    • WontVax

      Before you post things like this, you should really check in with the facts. Your “preventable” diseases rank so far down the list of causes of child death that they are negligible. The only disease of this category which ranks in the top 10 is flu – which is deceptively paired with pneumonia figures- and STILL only accounts for 3% of all child death. The reason you seem to think that there are more vax-preventable deaths than vax-related deaths is the result of the CDC’s refusal to report deaths as vax-related because, in their words, plausibility does not equal causation. There are NO CDC stats on these deaths DESPITE the fact that there are hundreds of VAERS reports suggesting adverse reactions as a COD. The leading cause of death between 1 and 19? Accidents. Hundreds of thousands of them. If you can demand that my child be vaccinated, may I demand that all your furniture be secured to your walls with brackets or your car outfitted with armor? Should a dealership refuse to sell you a car because you own a cell phone and there’s a risk you might text and drive? The control freak element here is almost amusing.

    • Jen

      Oh, one last thing: Many of these diseases HAVE resurged in the US due to the misinformation campaign of the anti-vaxers. So, the “my child probably won’t be exposed” line of thinking is totally off base. And, frankly, if you think you can take care of these major diseases “naturally” perhaps you should have a conversation with the elderly people who saw their siblings die or be permanently maimed in droves while their parents did everything in their power to save them from these now preventable diseases.

    • DaisyGirl

      Mel, no, if my child were to die from a disease that, in our area, is unheard of to catch anymore, I would not feel guilty. Aside from guilt every parent has when their child dies before they do. But I would feel far greater guilt if *I* were the cause of their death by putting something foreign and dangerous, especially when there is history of serious reactions to vaccines in my family, into their bodies. So yes, I did “think a minute,” far longer than that, as a matter of fact. And I stand firm in my decision.

    • Danielle

      Jen, because the roll vaccines play in my family’s life I have done a lot of research on this. As well as talked to a lot of doctors. This is something I am passionate about because it has claimed the life of my nephew. I want to be as careful and informed as I can be for my kids. I know I’m doing the right thing, I just wish more doctors would respect that their patients who are informed are the decision makers for their families and no bullying from the doctors (and passive aggressive behavior like ‘firing’ us) will change how we feel about it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want a doctor who was always pulling the authority card on me and pretending to know my family and my kids better than I do. I’d find a new doctor before I had the chance to be ‘fired.’

    • DaisyGirl

      Mel, this might help explain why I would have more guilt having a child die from vaccines, instead of naturally getting sick and dying. I would never be able to live with myself, knowing that something I allowed into my child’s body had caused them to suffer such a long and painful death as this. I wasn’t born yet, when my sister died, but my heart aches because I wasn’t given the chance to know her, and because my parents had to watch her suffer like this.

    • rbunn

      just a thought…….
      If you’ve been vaccinated against these diseases, then why are you worried from catching the disease from someone who hasn’t been vaccinated? Aren’t the vaccinations suppose to protect or even prevent you from getting these diseases?

    • KT

      @rbunn- its called “herd immunity”. Vaccines can’t 100 percent protect you from illness (although they generally reduce the severity of the illness if you do get sick), but by vaccinating you reduce the occurrence of the disease. So if you vaccinate everyone in the “herd”, the disease will essentially disappear. But if a few people choose not to get vaccinated, suddenly the ‘herd’ isn’t so immune anymore. Then, since the herd isn’t immune, the disease can spread, even among people who got vaccinated. This has been happening recently with measles in the Portland area. So when some people choose not to be vaccinated, it puts every one else at risk. (people with immune deficiencies obviously shouldn’t be immunized though)

  • RighttoWorkMom

    This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.

    Did your doctor fire you for smoking? What about for refusing to exercise? What about for eating crappy food seven days per week?

    Did your doctor fire you for refusing to sleep enough? For excessive caffeine intake? For using recreational drugs?

    Did your doctor fire you for refusing surgery? What about for not taking vitamins?

    I get it. Vaccines are the “issue” du jour, but this is ridiculous.

    • Jen

      Umm…Doctors do that ALL the time. My father’s doctor refused to continue seeing him unless he got serious about weight control since it was causing him major health problems. I also have a family friend who parted ways with her doctor (at the doctor’s request) after she refused to quit smoking.

      And there is a BIG difference between all of the things you cited and parents refusing vaccinations. All of the actions you mentioned do harm to the patient, but do not put the doctor’s other patients at risk. As others here have rightfully pointed out unvaccinated children are a major health risk to very young infants and children with immune problems.

      I ask again and again, why all the outrage from the anti-vax crowd about this? If doctors are part of a huge conspiracy within the medical community to harm your precious snowflakes and you can’t trust their advice because they are all about the $$, why are you seeing them in the first place?

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