A visit to your doctor’s office should leave you feeling informed and supported, with open and truthful conversations about your health and treatment plans. Many, however, do not get such courtesies, especially where vaccinations are concerned. Open conversations about vaccines are the exception rather than the rule at many U.S. doctors’ offices. Increasingly, parents are left feeling belittled or threatened by their children's doctors should they so much as question the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) vaccination schedule. Many are even going so far as to kick patients out of their practice, leaving them without a source for medical care. As Barbara Loe Fisher, founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), states: "The sacred trust between mothers and pediatricians fostered by mutual respect and shared decision-making has been broken. Sadly, the admiration and trust that mothers used to have for family pediatricians is melting away and being replaced by fear. Doctors are not our masters. We pay them well to do a job, not to exploit and terrify us. Discrimination, coercion and force have no place in modern medicine or in public health policy."
Pediatricians’ offices have become ugly battlegrounds. Intelligent, well-informed and loving parents asking legitimate questions about vaccinations are being belittled and treated with disrespect and contempt by too many pediatricians robotically implementing the CDC’s inflexible vaccine schedule in clear violation of the informed consent principle. The National Vaccine Information Center is regularly contacted by mothers reporting that pediatricians are refusing to provide medical care to their babies if they decline or ask to delay even one of the two dozen doses of nine vaccines that CDC officials order pediatricians to give infants in the first year of life. The sacred trust between mothers and pediatricians fostered by mutual respect and shared decision-making has been broken. Sadly, the admiration and trust that mothers used to have for family pediatricians is melting away and being replaced by fear. Doctors are not our masters. We pay them well to do a job, not to exploit and terrify us. Discrimination, coercion and force have no place in modern medicine or in public health policy.
It is quite common for pediatricians (and family doctors) to encounter parents who refuse one or more infant vaccines, most often due to safety concerns. These concerns also mean that pediatricians frequently get requests to modify or delay the vaccine schedule—nearly three-fifths (58%) of pediatricians reported such requests in a 2014 AAP survey. Rather than recognize the validity of parents’ safety concerns or admit to their own ambivalence about some of the newer vaccines, many pediatricians—nearly two in five according to some estimates—choose to boot uncooperative families out of their practice. A recent Medscape survey indicates that one of the main things that pediatricians dislike about their job is “dealing with difficult patients.” However, when pediatricians dismiss families whose only crime is the desire to make informed and individualized health care decisions on behalf of their children, the doctors are doing more than just unprofessionally dumping “difficult” patients—they also are protecting their bottom line. Dr. Bob Sears confirms that HMO plans use incentive practices, conducting year-end chart reviews and awarding large bonuses to pediatric practices that score well. Dr. Sears explains: “This bonus varies depending on the number of patients the doctor sees. One of the requirements for a patient’s chart to pass the test is that they are fully vaccinated. […] Such incentives…end up forcing a doctor to consider the financial implications of accepting patients who even just want to opt out of one vaccine. …Maybe a few such families wouldn’t make them fail the chart reviews, but if they have too many, there goes their year-end bonus.”
If a doctor sticks six vaccines into a child while the child is taking antibiotics for an ear infection and Tylenol for a cold, he’s not a doctor, he’s a criminal, and should be hauled into jail on the spot for assault and battery. If the child also happens to have eczema, long-term diarrhea, and has missed a milestone or two, perhaps the charge should be attempted murder. As you know, pediatricians do just this and more every day. How do we stop this recklessness?