Growing number of pediatricians turn away unvaccinated children


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Controversy continues growing across the country as more parents are deciding not to vaccinate their children, and now more doctors are deciding to turn these patients away.

10% of parents are now refusing vaccines for their kids. On the flip side, nearly one in eight pediatricians reported they always dismiss these patients. That’s double what it was in 2006.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges doctors not to dismiss unvaccinated kids and still try to persuade parents. That’s what local doctors say they’re trying to do too. They say vaccines are safe and protect people from incurable and uncontrollable diseases.

Dr. Charles Willson, Vice Chair of Pediatrics for the Brody School of Medicine, says it’s also about protecting kids in the waiting room.

“Now that parents don’t see these illnesses on a daily basis, they think ‘Well you know, if my kids don’t get vaccinated, maybe I’ll keep them from having too many shots and getting too many substances into their system.’ but they’re taking a chance and we know that these vaccines are safe,” Dr. Willson said.

Vaccines depend on herd immunity, meaning the more people unvaccinated, the higher the risk of your child being exposed to an illness.

WNCT didn’t find any pediatricians in the area refusing unvaccinated patients. However, local doctors do say they understand why some doctors do, because they feel so strongly about the protections of vaccines.

Dr. Willson says it’s rare that he sees parents refusing vaccines, yet he’s now working with one parent standing firmly against it.

“We want parents to trust us. If we say ‘Hey, you know if you don’t get vaccinated, we’re not going to take care of you anymore,’ it kind of diminishes our professionalism. So she comes up and we work on it but I’m never going to convince her to get her children immunized. I just pray that they don’t catch one of these deadly diseases,” Dr. Willson said.

Just over 71% of kids in the U.S. receive the recommended shots by age 3. Rates in North Carolina are better at nearly 81%.

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