The U.S. has an epidemic of parents who won’t vaccinate their kids. Now doctors can fight back.
The American Academy of Pediatrics doctors can now refuse to treat families that refuse to vaccinate their children. They can’t just kick them out on the street without options, but pediatricians can “fire” anti-vaxxers as long as they ensure the family still has access to medical care.
All U.S. states, says the report, have regulations requiring proof of immunization for child care and school attendance, in order to safeguard public health. Most also have in place mechanisms to grant exceptions, both medical and non-medical. While the AAP supports medically-indicated exemptions, it now opposes any other kind, i.e. the kind that panders to ignorant parents:
The AAP views non-medical exemptions to school-required immunizations as inappropriate for individual, public health, and ethical reasons and advocates for their elimination.
The changes came about thanks to the rise in vaccine refusal, and the frustration it caused to doctors. The new policy allows them to deny treatment to families who still refuse to get their kids vaccinated, but it has to be done “considering and respecting the reasons for the parents’ point of view,” says the report.
Pediatricians should also be willing to discuss the science behind vaccinations with the parents, although this sounds like it would be as successful as trying to convince evolution-deniers that the Earth is older than 6,000-odd years. For instance:
“Reassuring parents that the [human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine] is safe and that there is no evidence that HPV vaccine increases sexual activity may dispel their concerns,” says the report. One would think that, if they were inclined to rational thought, and to “believing in” facts, then they may not have decided to avoid vaccinations in the first place.
The policy change is important, because anti-vaxxing is on the rise, and endangers others, not just the children of the parents concerned.
States with less rigorous requirements for non-medical exemptions and those that grant permanent medical exemptions have significantly higher vaccine exemption rates than those states with more rigorous requirements or those that only grant temporary exemptions.
States that offer personal-belief exemptions have had steady increases in the number of exemptions over time.
One possible alternative is to force parents to attend a science class if they refuse to vaccinate, but being fired by your doctor seems like a much neater solution. Having the state decide what can be done with your body might seem a little off-kilter in today’s world, but having idiot parents decide whether a deadly disease is allowed to run free is even worse. The new AAP policy doesn’t force anything on anybody. Instead, it gives the anti-vaxxers what they say they want: If you don’t “believe” in modern medicine, then doctors don’t have to give you service.