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Survey Finds 1 in 5 Pediatricians will not Treat Unvaccinated Children

Update Date: Nov 03, 2015 10:35 AM EST

Having unvaccinated children can make finding a pediatrician difficult.

According to a recent survey, one in five pediatricians, about 21 percent, admitted that he/she would drop a family if their children were not vaccinated. Four percent of family physicians would do the same if the parents refused vaccines.

The lead author of the study, Sean O'Leary, who is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado, believes that doctors are feeling pressure when it comes to treating unvaccinated children due to the recent outbreaks, such as the measles one that occurred in Disneyland.

"I'm hearing the practice has become more common, particularly in California, following the outbreak," O'Leary said. "Parents say, 'I don't want to take my child to a clinic with non-vaccinators and expose them to risk,' so there is parental pressure on some pediatricians."

"For these physicians, what I'm hearing them say is they strongly feel not immunizing their children is such a great risk that they're taking a stand," expert Dr. H. Dele Davies added reported by HealthDay. "They may be reflecting their sense that, if you don't want to do this, I don't want to expose my other patients to potential risk."

The survey, which involved 815 pediatricians and family doctors, found that pediatricians from the south and northeast were more likely to choose not to treat unvaccinated children. The survey was conducted in 2012 and around 66 percent of the doctors had provided answers.

The researchers noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not recommend doctors to stop treating children just because they have not been vaccinated. Instead, these two groups are urging doctors to invest time and build trust with the parents with the hope of getting them to understand the importance of vaccines.

Even though some doctors might be turning down patients, the survey's findings reported that overall, not that many parents reject vaccines. 83 percent of the doctors stated that within a normal month, the rate of parents who refuse vaccines is less than one percent.

The survey's findings were published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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