In California, pediatricians are feeling pressure from parents to drop families who do not vaccinate in the wake of the Disney measles outbreak. Parents of children too young or sick for vaccinations want pediatricians to take a stand against anti-vaxxers in order to protect the most at-risk patients.
The measles outbreak has caused some parents to rethink their stance on vaccinations. Mother Caryn Bailey of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, for example, has said that she has become convinced that the risk her 5-year-old daughter might catch measles has risen enough to outweigh any reservations she had about the vaccine. In fact, once she got news of the outbreak, she immediately brought her daughter in to their pediatrician to receive the MMR vaccine.
Baily’s reservations were related to the fact that her older son had a reaction to the vaccine when he was a child and became hospitalized with fevers. The boy is now a healthy 7-year-old, though, and shows no signs that he had ever had the reaction.
The measles outbreak in California has caused one group of pediatricians to make a bold declaration: anti-vaxxers are not welcome. Dr. Eric Ball explained:
“I have several patients a day who have threatened to leave our practice if we are still going to see patients that are unvaccinated…They do not want to see patients with measles or whooping cough in our waiting room for fear their baby might get sick from it.”
Speaking about the anti-vaxxers he sees, Ball said,
“Most of these parents are fearful because they’ve heard bad stories about vaccines…So I tell them stories about the way I handle my own children ? about the way I vaccinate my own children…I tell them about things I have seen as a doctor. I’ve seen kids die of whooping cough, meningitis, chickenpox. A lot of parents haven’t seen that, and they don’t have the same fear of these diseases that I do.”
Dr. Ball also revealed that last year an unvaccinated child visiting his office exposed 20 infants to measles. Because children under one year old are too young to receive the MMR vaccine, the babies were at risk to contract the highly contagious disease. They had to be kept at home and watched closely for the 21 day incubation period to see if they developed the disease. Of the incident, Ball said,
“It’s horrible…And one of the worst things is, the incubation for measles is long ? two to three weeks. Parents had to sit at home for 21 days waiting to see if their baby would come down with measles.”
In response to the recent measles outbreak, Dr. Ball’s pediatric group, which consists of 12 pediatricians and 4 nurse practitioners, voted unanimously to no longer welcome new patients and families that choose not to vaccinate. Furthermore, Dr. Ball and his partners have given notice to their current anti-vax patients that change is coming. Dr. Ball explained:
“For our existing patients who have chosen not to vaccinate, we’ll likely give them a set amount of time to come in and discuss with the doctor a catch-up schedule for their vaccinations. If they choose not to catch up on their vaccinations we’re going to ask them to find another pediatrician.”
The new pressure from pro-vaxxers is being felt throughout the region, and Dr. Ball’s practice will surely not be alone in taking a strong stance against the anti-vaxxers and the anti-vaccination movement. Only time will tell how much of an impact their stance will have, though, and whether the anti-vaxxers will decide on their own to take on the responsibility of vaccinating their children.