Pediatrics is a complex medical specialty focused on improving children’s physical, emotional and social well-being. To become certified as a pediatrician requires multiple skill sets to become qualified.
Experts warn that pediatricians who refuse to see patients who are behind on their vaccinations put all their other patients at risk – yet how do you find one who will?
1. Look on the Internet
Many pediatric practices that accept unvaccinated patients have posted their policies online for parents who are vaccine-sensitive to evaluate whether or not to bring their children there. For instance, Pediatricians of Dallas’ website includes an example policy which states that parents who opt not to abide by recommended vaccination schedule may be asked to seek another provider.
Physicians who employ these types of dismissal policies usually have the best interests of all their other patients at heart. They understand that not every patient will share their perspective on vaccines, some may have religious or philosophical objections to them, yet must still ensure their other patients are safe from diseases caused by unvaccinated individuals.
Vaccines have proven themselves a success throughout the 20th century. Not only have they eliminated smallpox and significantly decreased incidences of polio worldwide, they have saved millions from other infectious diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP), measles rubella mumps varicella.
Unfortunately, most kids in the United States remain under-vaccinated and as a result have come back into circulation – leading to outbreaks of whooping cough, measles, and other diseases such as measles that threaten both unvaccinated children as well as healthy ones. These outbreaks present serious threats – both to unvaccinated kids themselves as well as potentially spreading to healthy kids nearby.
2. Ask Friends and Family
Finding a pediatrician requires getting recommendations. These may come from your OB-GYN or nurse midwife, neighbors with children, the public affairs department of your hospital or medical center, a pediatric floor nurse or family doctor who knows and trusts both parents of your child.
Ask the pediatrician for recommendations of other providers, any potential conflicts of interests and whether or not they are affiliated with hospitals nearby.
Discuss the doctor’s background and education; inquire into any fellowships or research projects they have participated in; ascertain their credentials with regard to pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics; inquire as to their philosophy on vaccinations and how they handle patient concerns;
O’Leary notes that some doctors refuse to see patients who refuse vaccinate their children; others attempt to persuade and work with these families; still others simply dismiss the families, which may be difficult given any established relationships they might have.
Discover if the physician practices alone or part of a larger group practice. If they belong to the latter, perhaps another provider with similar vaccination views and who will accept your family might be available.
3. Check with Your Insurance Company
Finding pediatricians willing to treat unvaccinated children may take more effort, but it’s well worth your while. Parents should keep in mind that some physicians, particularly private practices, may dismiss families that refuse vaccines. However, AAP discourages such behavior.
Family physicians tend to be less likely than pediatricians to drop families over their vaccination hesitancy, likely because family physicians treat entire families and therefore have greater incentive to ensure all kids are up-to-date on their shots. Yet due to Disneyland measles outbreak, more family doctors are emphasizing vaccination’s importance than ever.
Most Americans receive recommended vaccines to protect them against dangerous illnesses like measles and whooping cough, but to maximize effectiveness they must be widely available and thus it’s vital that everyone gets one – this is why it is wise to check with your insurance company to make sure you can access any vaccines needed, including ones for children’s diseases.
Though most pediatricians strongly advise vaccination of their young patients, they’re not legally bound to provide care if a child refuses. According to a poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, three out of four parents would consider finding another provider if their current one refused treatment due to refusal of recommended vaccine schedules.
4. Check with the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is a professional organization of physicians founded in 1930 that seeks to ensure optimal physical, mental, and social wellbeing for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. This organization provides a forum for professional growth at an advanced level, maintains a national network of medical professionals, and produces numerous public education resources – patient education brochures, parents’ resource guide information on immunization schedules, monthly clinical journal “Pediatrics”, Healthy Kids magazine as well as child care books are produced by this institution. All members are either board-certified in pediatrics or have attained initial board certification prior to becoming Fellows of the Academy (FAAP).
The group provides multiple subspecialty sections for those interested in specific fields of medicine, including neonatal, child abuse and neglect, adolescent, maternal-child health. As an organization that operates non-profitly, its funding comes from membership dues, continuing medical education activities, advertising royalties, grants from its members as well as charitable donations from other sources.
In their most recent report published in JAMA, this group revealed that more than half of pediatricians’ offices surveyed have an office policy that discourages families who refuse vaccination from coming back into their offices. One Dallas-area pediatrician for instance refuses to treat children without all necessary shots because he doesn’t want unvaccinated kids lingering in his waiting room and spreading disease to babies and toddlers too young for immunization.