Doctors Refusing to have Vaccine refusing Patients (U.S.A.)

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203315804577209230884246636.html

This article in today’s Bioedge email caught my attention. It raises interesting issues about the role of doctors and their relationship with their patients. In this case patients who refuse to have their children vaccinated are asked (made) to leave a practice.

Should doctors be able to do this or should they provide their service anyway? Some raised concerns about unvaccinated children infecting children who are waiting receive vaccinations, i.e. under 2-year olds. Some seem to believe that their will be unable to establish an effective relationship with the patient if the cannot agree on something as ‘basic’ as vaccination.

Are these the ‘real’ reasons? Is this a case of doctor knows best, or scientific evidence overruling individual viewpoints? There could be an argument that even if parent are opposed to vaccination their children should be vaccinated regardless because partial vaccination programs do not eliminate the specific disease or infection, and that their refusal would undermine and put at risk others.

Should we accept the refusal of some as a legitimate exercise of choice? How does this impact the use of scarce resources when prevention results in better distribution?

Your thoughts on this matter?

Sam Walker (PhD Student)

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