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More Pediatricians Dismiss Patients for Parental Refusal to Vaccinate

BIRMINGHAM, AL – While some surveys have suggested an easing of parental noncompliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC immunization schedule, the continued resistance remains a major headache for pediatricians.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics examined the frequency of requests for vaccine delays and refusals, and the effect on U.S. pediatricians’ behavior. Overall, it found that a higher percentage of pediatricians are taking a stronger stand on the issue.

A study team led by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham used national American Academy of Pediatrics Periodic Surveys of Fellows from 2006 and 2013 to describe pediatrician perceptions of prevalence of vaccine refusals and delays, parental reasons for refusals and/or delays, and physician dismissals.

The study notes that the surveys asked questions about vaccine delays only in 2013.

Results indicate that the proportion of pediatricians reporting parental vaccine refusals increased from 74.5% in 2006 to 87.0% in 2013.

Based on the surveys, pediatricians perceive that parents are increasingly refusing vaccinations because parents believe they are unnecessary — 63.4% in 2006 vs. 73.1% in 2013.

Meanwhile, the reason for vaccine delays, according to 75% of pediatricians, was concern about discomfort, while 72% said parents were worried about immune system burden.

While 6.1% of pediatricians reported “always” dismissing patients for continued vaccine refusal in 2006, that percentage increased to 11.7% in 2013.

“Pediatricians reported increased vaccine refusal between 2006 and 2013,” the study authors concluded. “They perceive that vaccine-refusing parents increasingly believe that immunizations are unnecessary. Pediatricians continue to provide vaccine education, but are also dismissing patients at higher rates.”

The overall situation might be improving, however.

Recently, the 2016 Medscape Vaccine Acceptance Report surveyed more than 1,500 pediatricians, family medicine physicians, public health physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to determine clinician perceptions about the current levels of vaccine acceptance, refusal, and requests to delay the vaccine schedule from parents.

Results indicate that 46% of clinicians reported more acceptance of vaccines overall in their practice, while only 12% of clinicians reported less vaccine acceptance than the year before.