What to do with the completely unvaccinated child? It’s a question that most pediatricians have to face, particularly as the antivax movement has risen to prominence. A recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked a sample of parents how their child’s primary care office deals with children who are completely unvaccinated and how they believe primary care offices should tackle the issue.
With current policies, 39% of parents sampled said that the office had a policy requiring all recommended vaccines; 8% said the office required only some vaccines; 15% said that the office had no policy regarding vaccination; and 38% were unaware of a policy at the practice. In the waiting room of the doctor’s office, 68% of parents were unaware of policies regarding the space; 24% said that unvaccinated children were allowed in the same waiting room as vaccinated children with no restriction; 6% said that unvaccinated children were not allowed to use the same waiting area; and 2% said that unvaccinated children were allowed in the same waiting room, as long as the child wore a mask.
When asked about wanting to know if other children in the practice had parents who refused all vaccines, 43% of parents indicated that they would want to know; 33% said that they would not like to know; and 24% were unsure. When asked what they would do if they discovered that the practice had vaccine refusal parents, 12% of the parents said that they would be very likely to change their child’s healthcare provider and 29% said that they would be somewhat likely to make the switch.
When asked about how practices should handle parents who refuse all vaccines for their children, 28% of the sample said that those parents should be asked to find another provider for the child; 27% said that unvaccinated children should be only be allowed in the waiting room if they wore a masks; 17% called for a ban on unvaccinated children in the waiting room. However, 28% said that unvaccinated children should be allowed to continue to visit the doctor’s office with no restrictions.
Discussing the implications of the sample, the researchers highlighted that primary care providers need to be careful when developing policies regarding completely unvaccinated children. If the practice has any policies, doctors should be sure to tell the parents of infants and immunocompromised children. They should also be ready to discuss it with any anxious parent.