Thursday, July 2, 2015

Clinics, States Strengthening Vaccination Requirements

Measles. Mumps. Whooping Cough.

These (once commonplace, now rare, because of vaccination) deadly diseases are making an ugly comeback. To fight this resurgence and protect their patients, some clinics are making the seemingly bold choice to no longer accept patients whose parents object to vaccinations.

On Tuesday, Me&My Doctor reported on Austin Regional Clinic’s (ARC’s) decision to strengthen its vaccination policy for new and existing pediatric patients. The move made headlines across the state.

“Without strengthening this policy, we put at risk the most vulnerable of our population and patients that we see,” Kimberly Avila Edwards, MD, a pediatrician at ARC, told Texas Standard.

ARC physicians say they will discuss patients’ parents’ vaccine concerns with them and stress the importance of these life-saving vaccinations. The clinic acknowledges some parents may choose ultimately to take their children — and therefore their business — elsewhere, but says its first responsibility is the safety of its patients, not its bottom line.

“It’s what’s best to serve the child you’re trying to take care of,” Gary Floyd, MD, a Fort Worth pediatrician and Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees member told Texas Standard.

Listen to the full interview:

In a related move Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring children entering public and private schools be fully vaccinated. The law eliminates the religious and personal belief exemptions physicians say weakened the state’s public health defenses. The legislation exempts those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Pockets of residents there (and in Texas) have chosen not to vaccinate their children, which physicians and other health care experts say leads to breakdown in defense against preventable diseases … which leads to outbreaks.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Governor Brown wrote in a letter to his state’s Senate.

The bill received bipartisan support and was hailed by the state’s physicians. It “will help protect the most vulnerable, including babies too young to be immunized and people who are immunocompromised, from the risks associated with contracting these diseases,” the California Medical Association said in a statement. “It will also protect the community at large from increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.”

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