According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, more pediatricians are rejecting parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
As the anti-vaxxer movement grows, more doctors are coming into contact with their demands. The study notes that in 2006, 75 percent of doctors said they’ve encountered anti-vaxxers in their office — a rate that jumped 10 percent in 2013. According to Slate, the researchers found that “6.1 percent of pediatricians in 2006 reported that they ‘always’ asked intransigently anti-vaccine families to take their kids elsewhere; that number had nearly doubled, to 11.7 percent, by the time the 2013 survey was taken.”
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggested that “firing” vaccine-denying patients is the wrong approach.
“The AAP recommends that pediatricians continue to engage with vaccine-hesitant parents, provide other health care services to their children, and attempt to modify their opposition to vaccines.”
Whoever devised that strategy probably has never tried to reason with an anti-vaxxer. Nevertheless, the study found that doctors are following this advice, with about 94 percent of 2013 respondents saying they had tried to educate parents who wouldn’t vaccinate, being successful about a third of the time.
But when families won’t budge, doctors have to weigh the unvaccinated child’s need for care against the risk he or she may pose to other patients—particularly vulnerable children too young, or perhaps too ill, to have received certain shots.
Some doctors are also justifiably frustrated with anti-vaxxer parents, whose behavior is eroding modern medicine’s greatest gains. While fewer and fewer people seem to be refusing vaccines due to baseless concerns that they cause autism—74 percent of doctors had encountered that reasoning n 2006, versus 64 percent in 2013—more and more parents believe that vaccines simply aren’t necessary. Seventy-three percent of doctors surveyed in 2013 had heard that line, versus 63 percent seven years earlier.
But “firing” parents won’t be a long-term solution to the problem. As long as the pro-science community continues to fight the anti-vaxxer narrative and relegate it back to the fringe, there’s hope that this dangerous and destructive belief system will deteriorate over time.