An infant with measles. Graphic from Janie Maitland

Should non-vaccinated children be barred from pediatricians?

The anti-vaxxer movement has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Many parents think that vaccines are related to autism. This idea may’ve taken root when Jenny McCarthy came forward and announced that she believed her child developed autism because they were vaccinated.

This fear inspired many medical studies. Although no studies show a link, there isn’t absolute proof that autism can’t be caused by vaccinations. However, with the many studies that show no link to vaccines and autism, I think it’s safe to assume that link doesn’t exist.

An infant with measles. Graphic from Janie Maitland
An infant with measles. Graphic from Janie Maitland

Many parents cry that it’s their choice to vaccinate their child or not. Just as many parents don’t like others interfering with the way they raise their child, many parents also aren’t comfortable with someone telling them how to care for their child. Although I’d be annoyed if someone told me how to raise my child, I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a medical degree, but I do look at the latest research–which tells me that there are more benefits to vaccines than there are dangers.

Recently, a measles outbreak occurred at DisneyLand in California. The source was a child who hadn’t received the measles vaccine, due to a parent’s concerns that the vaccine would have adverse effects. Because of this outbreak, many parents who had once fought against the standard vaccination schedule changed their mind and rushed to have their children caught up on vaccines.

A recent segment by NPR addressed an idea brought about by concerned, vaccinating parents: pediatricians should bar parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Many may argue that this would keep children from receiving other medical care. However, Dr. Bob Sears’ office had a great idea: give parents who choose not to vaccinate a date to start having their child caught up on vaccines. This would pressure parents to vaccinate their child immediately, or risk losing treatment for other illnesses.

Some argue that this is infringing on parents’ right to choose care for their child. I believe that parents who believe that measles, meningitis or chicken pox are lesser threats than autism, shouldn’t be parents at all. I’m not a parent, but if I ever became a parent, I would be furious if my baby were infected with a deadly disease by a child who could’ve been vaccinated. Just as some parents are charged with child abuse for faith healing,parents who choose not to vaccinate against deadly diseases should be charged with murder if their child happens to die of a disease that could’ve been prevented by vaccination.

Even if there was a link between vaccination and autism, I would much rather care for a child with autism than have to bury my child. I simply can’t imagine being a parent and not doing everything possible to protect my child.

Overall, I think barring parents who choose not to vaccinate is a very smart idea. I think there has to be an extreme level of inanity to choose otherwise. Science has brought us so far and given us the wonderful gift of health against preventable diseases. Who wouldn’t take the risk, especially when the risk is virtually non-existent?