SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio – The current measles outbreak stemming from a California amusement park has put vaccinations back into the public spotlight, and some local pediatricians are now turning away parents who won't vaccinate their kids.
2 year-old Helena Murphy is current with her vaccinations, but their mother says Helena's newborn sister isn't fully immunized yet.
“I can’t protect her until she’s ready to get vaccinated, and that's a concern,” Margaux Murphy said.
That’s why Dr. Jim Leslie, with Green Road Pediatrics in South Euclid, said his practice will not treat children who are not being vaccinated.
“We feel un-immunized kids are real health risks to our babies who are not yet fully immunized,” Leslie said. “The last thing we want is for our babies to come into the office for ‘well visits,’ then be exposed to some very contagious diseases, like the measles.”
He's turned away about a half dozen parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids since implementing the policy two years ago. He said they’ve cited religious beliefs or skepticism about vaccine safety.
“I think because we've done such a good job preventing these diseases, most people don’t know the severity or just how devastating these diseases can be,” Leslie said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said it doesn’t have strict guidelines related to treating patients who aren’t vaccinated, but believes it's better to educate reluctant parents rather than turn them away.
"We should engage those families and provide them accurate and science-based information so they can immunize their children," said Doctor Mobeen H. Rathore, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases.
Doctor Leslie said most parents have understood his practice’s stance on vaccinations, which he calls critical to public health.
“It’s the cornerstone of preventative care,” he said. “I think we need to think of the public good, especially when it comes to disease and contagious disease.”