What some saw as a bold new vaccine policy is receiving positive reviews.
Back in June, the physicians at Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) announced they would no longer accept new pediatric patients whose parents opted not to have them vaccinated and who had no medical reason not to be vaccinated. ARC adopted this policy to protect all of its patients from disease, as children who have not received their recommended immunizations could expose other patients to vaccine-preventable diseases in the clinic. For many of these patients … especially those who have weakened immune systems and cannot be vaccinated or are too young to be vaccinated … infections from these diseases can be life-threatening.
ARC physician Alison Ziari, MD, recently updated a group of Travis County physicians on the effectiveness of the strengthened vaccination policy.
“It really has been a success story,” said Dr. Ziari. “By far and away, most families have decided to begin the [vaccination] catch-up schedule.”
Dr. Ziari said the new policy allowed her and her fellow physicians to delve deeper into the issues behind why parents were deciding against vaccinating their children. The reasons differed from family to family, but all stemmed from misinformation, she said. And having the opportunity to discuss their hesitancy and counter their fears with facts during a visit helped convince many parents of the importance of vaccines.
“We’ve had so many great conversations,” said Dr. Ziari. “We have received overwhelming support from our families who appreciate our efforts to protect them and their children.”
Dr. Ziari then read aloud a handwritten letter one child’s parent sent to ARC:
“Thank you for taking the lead in protecting all children,” she read. “These parents haven’t lived through epidemics. A cousin died and friends are still burdened with the effects of polio decades ago. Thank you for your courage.”