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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Survey: Younger Doctors More Skeptical of Vaccines

But Study Shows Doctors Overall Are Supportive of Vaccines for Children

Families 'Fired' for Refusing Vaccines

The second study involved 695 pediatricians from nine Midwestern states who filled out an online survey.

Overall, 21% of the doctors said they discharged families who continued to refuse all vaccines for their children.

There were huge variations by state, however. Minnesota doctors stopped treating such families less than 1% of the time. Iowa pediatricians discharged them 38% of the time, the survey showed.

"A proportion of doctors don't feel comfortable having unimmunized patients in their practice as they perceive them to be a risk to other patients in their waiting rooms," says researcher Christopher Harrison, MD, director of the infectious disease research laboratory at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

Still, "firing families who refuse to vaccinate [may not be the solution] and raises the question of whether we need a new dialogue on how doctors should approach the situation," he tells WebMD.

Among other findings:

  • The three vaccines that parents most often refuse or delay are MMR, HPV (human papillomavirus), and flu.
  • The most common reasons parents give for refusing or delaying vaccination are fear of autism and concerns about too many shots and serious side effects.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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