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Office Dismissal Policy for Families Refusing Vaccines Common

Office policies for dismissal of families more common than physician's dismissal behavior

TUESDAY, Sept. 15, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Half of practices report having an office dismissal policy for families refusing vaccines, according to a research letter published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sean T. O'Leary, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues surveyed U.S. pediatricians from April to July 2019 to examine the prevalence of dismissal of families who refuse or ask to spread out vaccines in the primary series or any vaccines. A total of 303 pediatricians responded to the survey.

The researchers found that reports were more common for office policies for dismissal due to vaccine refusal or spreading out than individual physician dismissal behaviors; 51 percent of pediatricians reported an office dismissal policy for families refusing vaccines in the primary series, while 37 percent of physicians reported often/always doing this themselves. Families were more often dismissed by pediatricians for refusing than for spreading out vaccines in the primary series (37 versus 6 percent); a similar pattern was seen for office policies (51 versus 28 percent). Of the 154 physicians who reported ever dismissing families for refusing vaccines in the primary series, 18 percent reported that those parents often/always changed their mind and agreed to vaccination (48, 29, and 5 percent sometimes, rarely, and never, respectively).

"Because vaccine refusal is common, the high prevalence of dismissal for families who refuse has important implications," the authors write.

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