What do most pediatricians do when a family refuses to vaccinate their child? To get a better sense of what is happening in regard to parental vaccine hesitancy and refusal over time, Hough-Telford et al. (10.1542/peds.2016-2127) looked at the results of two AAP Periodic Surveys that asked about vaccine refusal—one done in 2006 and one in 2013 to assess pediatric approaches to this problem. The authors also studied whether the reasons for vaccine refusal have changed over time and if patients were being dismissed from practices as a result.
The 2013 survey also asked about vaccine delays as well as straight out refusals which the 2006 survey did not. Sadly the percentage of pediatricians who are experiencing vaccine refusals has increased over the 7 year interval being studied from 74.5% to 87%. The number of pediatricians “always” dismissing patients for refusal also increased from 6.1% in 2006 to 11.7% in 2013.As to why pediatricians report parents want to refuse or delay vaccines, that information is well detailed in this article and worth your attention so as to be better prepared to help these families better understand the facts versus the fiction regarding vaccine side effects.
Accompanying this study is a new AAP policy (10.1542/peds.2016-2146) on vaccine hesitancy and what to do about it that is being released simultaneously with this study. The policy offers recommendations on what we should do to help families who wish to refuse or delay vaccines as well as under what circumstances should we consider dismissing a family—and if so how best to do that.
Are you dismissing patients for vaccine hesitancy and/or refusal? We would be interested to hear how you do this and why, by responding to this blog, sending in a comment to our journal regarding the study or policy, or posting your thoughts on our Facebook or Twitter sites. Whether you wish to comment or not publicly on the study and policy, do not hesitate or delay to read both, given the increasing prevalence of vaccine delays and refusals that are becoming sadly more common in this country.