According to a recent study by the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2006, 6.1 percent of pediatricians said they would ask parents to take their children elsewhere if the parents refused to vaccinate their children. By 2013, that number nearly doubled to 11.7 percent.
The reason for the uptick in patient refusal could be because the anti-vax movement is growing. The same survey showed that the number of pediatricians who said they had to deal with vaccine refusals rose from 75 percent to 87 percent.
To be clear, the AAP doesn't endorse "firing" patients. In fact, in a recent statement, the organization clarified in no uncertain terms, "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."
In response to this, the AAP eventually came around. They begrudgingly admitted that, even though they don't endorse it, in some cases dismissing families who refuse vaccinations can be an "acceptable option."
This new, looser stance by the AAP has drawn rave reviews from pediatricians around the country.
Alla Gordina, a pediatrician out of East Brunswick, New Jersey recently told Forbes she was glad to see the change, adding, "I have two patients in my practice who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. I have to protect them. I have to protect babies who cannot be vaccinated because of their age.”
Dr. Gordina is speaking about a concept called "herd immunity," in which those who are vaccinated prevent a chain of disease from spreading to those who are too weak or allergic to receive the shots. But, in order to work, a vast majority of healthy people must receive immunity.
We should also mention that there was some good news contained in the AAP study, too. About 94 percent of doctors claimed they tried to encourage anti-vax parents to consider changing their minds, and about a third reported success!
Perhaps the lesson here is that, instead of engaging in endless shouting and name-calling in internet comment threads, the real discussions about vaccines should be had during one-on-one conversations between parents and doctors. After all, that's where minds are most likely to be changed.