Should Pediatricians Blackmail Parents Into Vaccinating Kids?


vaccinesThere comes a time in every child's life when she has to bid her pediatrician goodbye. But usually it isn't because your pediatrician is refusing to let your sick kid inside his office. A growing number of doctors are apparently striking children who haven't been vaccinated from their patient lists, and escorting them out the door.

The part of me that believes strongly in vaccinations to save lives wants to cheer for them. But there's this other part of me, the part that believes all kids deserve a chance at a healthy life, that thinks this is absolutely abhorrent. Hearing an 11-year-old lost her doctor because her parents don't want to get her the whooping cough vaccine gives me chills. If I promise not to bring up autism (Oops, just did, but not again. For realsies.), I think we can all get on the same page with this one -- vax and non-vaxxers alike.

The people who decide not to vaccinate their children have their reasons. Right or wrong, it's a parent's choice. Which means it's not the child's choice

But who gets punished when the doctor says, "Oh, your kid is coughing up phlegm and hasn't been able to keep down solids in three days? Sorry, she hasn't had her MMR, so she'll have to just suffer through"? Not the parents. Oh, yeah, they're scrambling around like the Ghostbusters wondering "who they're gonna call," but they're able to munch and crunch their lunch just fine. Meanwhile kiddo sits there pitifully trying to get a bowl of chicken noodle down while Mom pages through the Yellow Pages.

The pediatricians are trying to make a very valid point -- that everyone from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Pediatrics to the CDC will tell you that vaccines save lives, and an un-vaccinated population puts other kids at risk. But you can't blackmail parents into listening to you, least of all by dangling a carrot as valuable as their child's well-being over their head.

I want to agree with these doctors, but by refusing sick kids service, they're failing the oath they took as doctors long ago: first do no harm.

Do you think the doctors are right?


Image via Andres Rueda/Flickr

kid health


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Lynette Lynette

I wish people would stop talking about autism & vaccines!  People who don't vax have many other concerns about risks w/ vaxsthan just autism.  I have many friends that don't vax(we do, but on a diff schedule).  It's appalling that doctors turn away children for the choices of the parent.

Amyin... AmyinMotown

I do agree with this. I don't want to be in a waiting room with a newborn their for their five-day checkup next to some kid who's coughing whooping cough germs all over because their parents think Jenny McCarthy is a medical expert. My kids' pediatrician strongly advocates vaccines, on a slower schedule than their old one did, and I totally agree with her. If you're not going to do even the basics to protect your child's health, then your pediatrician has an obligation to protect their other patients. And when some of those patients are little babies with immature immune systems who are too young to have had all their shots, things could get very, very bad very quickly. And don't say "breastfeeding protects them" because it doesn't serve a a magical anti-illness shield. Both my kids were breastfed, and both still got sick.

ZsMommy ZsMommy

I'm just gonna throw this out there-We have a vaccinated,autistic child...Do we believe in vaccinating-yes-to a point-with education-SPACE OUT THE VAX if you choose (wishing I know now what I didn't know then). Do we feel vax was the straw that broke the camel's back-yes-but that is our own case-I have and always will until medical proof verifies a route cause-some is genetic...some is vax...some is enviromental,and mostlikely a combo of all 3.

Anyhow-that being said-Our daughter is due for her next vax (she's 11) and while she's up to date til now-I'm apprehensive of this next vax.So I'm stuck in the middle-I'm pro vax but dragging my feet for the last few vax.

Turning away children regardless of vax -no vax is horrible-and yes-I can see how there are Dr's that are stuck in this "higher than thou" belief they feel they can turn away patients-HORRIBLE.

They took an oath to help and serve-especially children despite vax/no vax choices.

Zamaria Zamaria

I get my kids vaccinated. I feel like the benifits outweigh the risks. On the other hand, I have a very close friend who had her daughter vaccinated. Her daughter had severe side effects. She suffered sever mental retardation, she didn't grow, had to be fed by a tube. She lived for five years that way. And then she died. She was perfectly normal before the vaccine. I'm not sure exactly what the condition was called. But it was definately nit just autism. I can definately understand why a parent would choose not to vaccinate their child. I think it should be the parent's choice. And I don't think that a doctor should refuse to treat a child because they haven't been vaccinated. If they are concerned about the possible spread of disease, why not have a seperate entrance and waiting room for children who haven't been vaccinated? That's what my kids' doctor does. No one seems to find it offensive.

loriec loriec

This is absurd! the Doctors are more concerned on the Pharmacutical pimps who tell them to push the Vaccinations they come up with on everybody or every child.  It's ashame that a Doctor would deny a child just because the parents believe vaccination isn't right for their child,even as a religious belief. Doctors should respect the parents,the parents who love their child and care for their child. besides how many times will a child really have to see the doctor anyway without the Vaccination schedules.

Seems to me Peditrician/Doctors wouldn't see thge child much without giving them! less money with less Dr visits. Is this their biggest gripe?Hmmmmmmm,something to think about! 

PonyC... PonyChaser

You're right... I don't know the exact wording of the Hippocratic Oath, but I do know that it holds the words, "first, do no harm."  Denying those children care because they're not vaccinated is asinine.

If these doctors are so interested in public health - and one can infer that they are, because of their stance on vaccines - then aren't they going against their own beliefs by not treating a child with a potentially contagious illness?  If that kid has Influenza, refusing care will only encourage the spread of the disease.

On the other hand, bringing that child in for care could be an opportunity for education.  Showing the parents that their child has contracted an illness for which there is a vaccine could cause them to think again about not vaccinating about other, far more serious illnesses  (and I know that using the flu vaccine is a poor example, given it's 50% or less effectiveness. efficacy?).  These doctors are missing the opportunity to engage the parents in a conversation that could educate both of them further on the pros and cons of vaccines.  The doctor may discover that the parent didn't know that they could refuse some vaccines and administer others (for example, they could split out tetanus from diptheria, and only get diptheria).

It's stupid and arrogant on the part of the doctors.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

If you don't want to vax your kids, fine don't...but take them to a witch doctor and see what they can do for you if your child comes down with the measles or whooping's not fair for you to flood the ped's office and expose newborn infants to your arrogance...

sassy... sassykat122

No it's not Ponychaser. Maybe those doctors are trying to make sure the rest of their patients aren't gettin the same stuff some non-vax child is getting. I'm sorry but if some parent wants to not vaccinate their child thats fine, it's also the doctors choice to allow that child into his/her office. I'm sorry but those parents have made their (controversial) bed, put their child in it, now they too must suffer the consequences

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I don't agree with it at all.  We don't vaccinate our son, but luckily we've always been able to find doctors who respect (even if they don't agree with) our choices.

miche... micheledo

We currently don't vax our kids.  But I am on the doctor's side on this one.  They are a business and can choose to serve/not serve who they want.  At this point, I pay for their services.  And they can turn me down.

I don't want to see regulations made about who doctors can and cannot see.  That is their decision.  I'll just find a new doctor and make the drive when necessary.

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