Some Doctors Refuse To Treat Children Without Recommended Vaccines
Although all states require that children be vaccinated before attending school, 48 states in 2008 allowed parents to exempt their children for religious reasons and 21 states allowed exemptions for philosophical or personal reasons, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report.
Pediatricians who refuse to treat unvaccinated children do so out of concern that exposing their other patients to unvaccinated children would compromise the health of patients who are too young for vaccines or have more serious health conditions. According to CDC officials, a population loses the benefit of "herd immunity" when vaccination rates fall below 80% or 90%.
Although overall vaccine refusal rates tend to be low, rates often vary widely by location. In 2010, vaccination rates for children ages 19 months to 35 months were at 90% or above for many illnesses, according to a CDC report. Fewer than 1% of U.S. children received no vaccines, while vaccination rates for teenagers were lower but increasing, the agency found.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that physicians should not be refusing treatment for children whose parents do not vaccinate them. According to AAP, "over time, parents may be willing to reconsider previous vaccine refusals" (Andrews, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 9/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.