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Many pediatricians say they would not continue care for families who refuse vaccines

CHICAGO More than one-third of pediatricians say they would dismiss a family from their practice for refusing all vaccinations, according to a study in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The rate of unvaccinated children has risen significantly since 1995, according to background information in the article. While most parents continue to believe that vaccination is important, a large number express concern about vaccine safety. Although most parents depend on their pediatrician's advice and counsel in their decision to vaccinate their children, when a parent refuses one or all vaccines the relationship between parent and pediatrician may be weakened. Some pediatricians may choose to end their participation in the care of children whose parents refuse vaccinations, the authors suggest.

Erin A. Flanagan-Klygis, M.D., of Rush Medical College, Chicago, and colleagues surveyed pediatricians who provide routine vaccinations in a primary care setting. The survey included questions on the pediatrician's experience and type of practice; a question asking the pediatrician to rate the importance of the seven most common vaccines; and a set of questions about parental vaccine refusal and the pediatrician's response, including reasons for dismissing a family from the pediatrician's practice.

Of the 302 pediatricians completing the survey, 85 percent (256) reported encountering a family refusal of at least one vaccine during the previous 12 months, the researchers report. Fifty-four percent (162) of pediatricians reported encountering a parent who refused all vaccines. Pediatricians reported that parental reasons for both partial and full refusal of vaccines were similar. The most common reasons were safety concerns, concern at giving multiple vaccines at once, philosophical reasons and religious beliefs.

"In the case of parents refusing specific vaccines, 82 (28 percent) sai
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Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
312-942-7816
JAMA and Archives Journals
3-Oct-2005


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