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It is not often one hears about parents opting out of something that will protect their children. However, it is becoming more common.Parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases and some doctors have decided not to treat these children.
The most common childhood diseases protected against with vaccinations, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, are Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, Hepatitis B, Polio, and Pneumococcal Disease. Children are prone to catch these diseases from other children or adults who are unaware they are infected.
“We don’t see those diseases anymore,” says Doctor Elizabeth Gershoff, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We kind of think ‘oh, they’re not a problem, we don’t need to vaccinate anymore.’ And so a lot of parents think they have the luxury of not vaccinating. But as soon as we stop vaccinating, those diseases come back.”
Gershoff explains that one of the biggest issues occurs in the waiting room of doctor’s’ offices. Contamination is precisely the reason why pediatricians refuse care to unvaccinated children as they do not want to put other children in danger in their own waiting rooms.
Doctor Ari Brown of 411 Pediatrics in Austin does not accept new patients who have decided not to vaccinate.
“I would say that over the past 20 years, there have been questions that parents have raised about vaccines and concerns about safety of the vaccines and risks versus benefits,” Brown states. “Quite honestly,” she says, “I view vaccines as victims of their own success because parents today are not familiar with the diseases that they’re being protected against, and that’s because vaccines have done their job.”
Each of the 50 states has its own vaccine requirements for school and daycare entry: they all have medical exemptions and 21 states, including Texas, have philosophical exemptions. This means if a parent claims to have reasons other than medical ones to not vaccinate their child, they can file for a non-medical exemption.
“A parent in Texas may choose not to vaccinate their child at all and still that child would be able to enter the public school system or a daycare setting” says Dr. Brown. “That said, there is a recommended vaccination schedule that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, also by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices.”