The majority of the pediatricians we spoke with on these and other “vaccine-friendly” doctor lists said that they do think vaccinations are important for public health, but they just can’t convince fearful parents of this, despite the fact that thousands of children are vaccinated every day without a problem.
Today, physicians ask to be listed on [Dr. Bob] Sears’s website of vaccine-friendly physicians. One of those is Dr. Mark Su, who has been practicing family medicine for three years on the North Shore. He refuses to turn families away because they won’t vaccinate their children.
“It’s a difficult conflict because it’s a personal health choice coming up against a public health perspective,” Su said. “In this case personal choices do affect public health of the public at large. It is what it is. My personal practice style is I’m an individual patient advocate more than I am for the public as a whole.”
Su said a much stronger priority for him than convincing vaccine-averse parents to change their minds is to maintain and build strong relationships with patients and their families that might serve both parties later on.
But for Seth Mnookin, author of “The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy,” a physician who supports a parent’s decision not to vaccinate his child puts the rest of us at risk. Mnookin said he understands the argument against turning a family away, since it’s not the child’s fault that his or her parents are hesitant about vaccines. But it also creates a risk for the other patients in the practice.
“Obviously because pediatricians see kids from birth to their teenage years to beyond, when you have kids that aren’t vaccinated in a practice, that puts everyone else in the practice at risk. Children who are too young to be vaccinated are exposed in the waiting room,” he said.