vaccine denial meme

Pediatricians Refusing Care For Unvaccinated Children Is Not A Risk I’m Willing To Take

While I certainly believe shame goes a long way in our culture to create change, the idea that doctors are supposed to deny care to children born to parents who don’t understand the science of vaccines is insane to me. These children didn’t choose their parents yet the kids should suffer with a lack of consistent medical care because their parents are ignorant and afraid of vaccines?

I know lots of things parents are ignorant and afraid of and thus make poor decisions, but I also know that without a doctor on their team, those decision only get worse. Are we going to lock out every fearful parent from every private practice? Every parent who demands antibiotics when there are super bugs? Every parent who delayed vaccinating because they thought it was a reasonable compromise? Every parent who refuses to medicate their obviously suffering, mentally ill child? Every parent who doesn’t use their car seat correctly or doesn’t make their children wear bike helmets?

vaccine denial meme

Medical care is not just for the smart or the wealthy or the kind. The kids, who these pediatricians are turning away, will have other things missed like developmental delays because they can’t have a doctor and are only seen in the emergency room. Are we willing to take away all the positives of preventative care over one really, really bad decision that is rectifiable?

Change comes from compassion and communication — not a denial of basic needs particularly to children who have no say in whether they are vaccinated or not. I know people who have shown up at a pediatric appointment certain they won’t vaccinate their children, but when the parents are treated less like morons and more like parents doing their best, they come around to see that vaccines are in the best interest of their children. Isn’t that what we want? Doctors and parents working as a team to encourage healthy children.

Pediatricians need to do their job, which is to work with parents to create the best possible outcomes for every child within the confines of their home, family and community resources. That will never be accomplished if doctors cuts a population out of their practice. We should not force a pediatrician to chose which children deserve care, and the pediatricians who have already denied care over vaccines should be ashamed of themselves for punishing children for the “sins of their fathers.”

Those of us who worry about our children being exposed to diseases by unvaccinated children, we have a job, too. We need to work with our local children’s museums and amusement parks and schools because those places are where our children are the most likely to be exposed to communicable diseases. It is there that our children are at the most risk. It is not the doctor’s office, and it is not the doctor’s job to punish children for their parents’ choices. Those unvaccinated kids deserve all the medical care they can get, and if people want to force others to vaccinate, they need to go through their legislators and require them in places kids go for fun like Disneyland. Heck, maybe all our kids will start asking for shots!

I vaccinated my children for them and for the children who are unable to be vaccinated whether because of age or illness. I think those who don’t vaccinate or delay vaccination are foolish and ignorant of science. I think they are making a bad decision for their children and for their community. But perhaps that is exactly why we don’t want them all alone to make more bad decisions. They need a doctor who will listen and help guide them, or we, as a society, will suffer more. Not just because we cannot trust our pediatricians to care about every child regardless of their parents, but because their parents, those ones the memes call morons, will have no voices of reasons left in their lives and, most importantly, in their children’s lives.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

5 thoughts on “Pediatricians Refusing Care For Unvaccinated Children Is Not A Risk I’m Willing To Take

  1. I appreciate SO MUCH your ability to take the knee-jerk reactions of the masses and put it into perspective.
    People can be so quick to embrace what seems to be a simple solution; but nothing is that simple.
    And you, as always, navigate the gray area like no other.

  2. I’ve been confused by this. I guess I am naive because I was shocked that doctors could or would refuse care to patients for any reason. It just seemed to go against everything I believed doctors to be. I thought maybe they were doing it to protect other patients in their waiting room which I could sort of wrap my mind around, but refusing patients just to shame them is really terrible. On the other hand, I wish people would get vaccinated. Our pediatrician was really good at explaining the vaccines to us even though we already planned on getting them for our daughter. I wish everyone had a pediatrician they trusted as much as we trust ours.

  3. I think you have a good heart, but I think you’ve missed the mark here.

    First, most of the kids who are not vaccinated come from affluent, white homes. That’s why there are scary outbreaks in San Diego (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/370/ruining-it-for-the-rest-of-us?act=1#play) and white mega churches that are mostly white (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/texas-church-measles-outbreak-vaccination_n_3818418.html).
    This article also touches on it: http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/March-2014/Why-Is-Vaccine-Refusal-More-Prevalent-Among-the-Affluent/

    So just to restate — parents who opt out of vaccines are usually well-educated and rich. It’s not people who don’t have access to medical care. (In case that’s what you were implying, I’m sorry if i misunderstood.)

    Second, have you asked your doctor about this? I’m about to have a baby, and I’m more concerned about his safety than my two, older, vaccinated kids.
    Kids DO pick up viruses and germs at the doctor, why would you say they don’t? Last winter my kid laid down at the doctor and sucked a Cheerio off the floor. I’m willing to bet he got a few germs in the process. (Sigh. I was holding down my daughter while she got shots.)

    I would be interested to hear what your doctor said; I did ask my doctor and they said they don’t advise unvaccinated (by choice) kids to remain at their practice simply because of this: if the parent disagrees with the science behind vaccines, then they will fundamentally differ in opinion of the medical professionals at the office. All of the doctors in my practice believe in and advocate for vaccines, and if you can’t trust them to understand that science then how will you trust them to advise on other issues?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.