We ask our families to please read the following, as it represents a significant change in our vaccination policy.
When our practice began in 2001, we began with a core belief that we were partners with parents when making good choices for their children’s health. We join our training and experience with parents’ understanding of their children, making a very strong team. We maintain this core belief, despite the fact that we don’t always fully agree with each other. Mutual respect, however, keeps moving us toward the same goal: healthier kids, healthier families, stronger parents.
Unfortunately, sometimes choices that parents make can affect others around them. The recent outbreak of measles in California has heightened our awareness that we do not live in a vacuum. Combining a vulnerable population with declining immunization rates reminds us that our choices may have far-reaching consequences.
To date, we have always allowed families in our practice to choose to defer all or some vaccinations. We wanted to believe that building a relationship with our parents based on mutual respect and trust can encourage parents to vaccinate their children, and in the long run, increase vaccination rates in the community. We feel very frustrated that after more than a decade of patient encouragement, families who choose to not vaccinate tend to stay very committed to that decision. Additionally, we have persistent nagging fears that a child might contract a vaccine-preventable disease in our waiting room due to our policy of flexibility.
After agonizing and emotional discussions, Southwest Pediatrics has unanimously agreed that our physicians will no longer accept patients who do not vaccinate their children as of April 1st, 2015. Existing families will be expected to begin a catch-up schedule promptly, or seek a new medical home for their children.
Some important details:
- Alternate Schedules (slow, partial) are not appropriate. We believe the schedule as published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control annually is the most appropriate schedule for our patients.
- To remain patients at Southwest Pediatrics, children who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated must begin their catch-up program promptly with a goal to be caught up within 1 year. We will certainly respect reasonable efforts to be moving in that direction.
- All AAP/CDC recommended vaccines will be required with the exception of those typically NOT required by public school, currently including HPV, Rotavirus and seasonal Influenza. These exceptions should not be construed as our lack of support for them; we believe they are safe, effective and important.
We recognize that this may be significant change for some of you. For many of you, it is a welcome change that makes you feel more confident that your children are safer around other children in our practice. It’s also worth noting that we still very much welcome your questions and concerns about vaccines. We would be genuinely heartbroken for patients to leave our practice over this change in policy, but we respect your right to make choices for your children. Because this represents a change in policy, no fees will be imposed for records transfer. Please believe us that we made this decision after agonizing thought and weeks of debate.
Please feel free to speak directly with your pediatrician about this change in policy at your child’s next well child exam, or feel free to make an appointment to review your child’s specific catch-up schedule as necessary. Because of the unique aspects of each case, we think it will be best to talk directly to your pediatrician (not triage or medical assistant staff) to avoid confusion. Catch up schedules can be pretty challenging.
Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the parents who have been so honest about their concerns on both sides of this conversation. We have tremendous respect for the work that is parenting. It is our privilege to be on your team and would be happy to discuss this further with you at your next visit.