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April 30, 2018

Considering Whether the Dismissal of Vaccine-Refusing Families Is Fair to Other Clinicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Center for Healthcare Ethics, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 3Department of Philosophy, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan
  • 4Bioethics Center, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri
  • 5School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Kansas City
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(6):515-516. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0259

A recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report states that it is an acceptable option for pediatric care clinicians to dismiss families who refuse vaccines.1 This is a clear shift in guidance from the AAP, which previously advised clinicians to “endeavor not to discharge”2(p e1696) patients solely because of parental vaccine refusal. While this new policy might be interpreted as encouraging or recommending dismissal of vaccine-refusing families, it instead expresses tolerance for diverse professional approaches. This is unlike the earlier guidance, which promoted a unified response to vaccine refusal. In fact, the resolution (which was presented at the AAP’s Annual Leadership Forum) that led to this clinical report also calls on the AAP “to continue to support pediatricians who continue to provide health care to children of parents who refuse to immunize their children.”3(p 1)

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