Children of Anti-vaxxers Should Have Access to Doctors' Offices Restricted, Say Almost 75% of Parents

Almost three-quarters of parents want their child's doctor to place restrictions on unvaccinated patients from visiting their office, according to research.

Between one to 2 percent of U.S. children are completely unvaccinated, exposing them to conditions such as measles, pertussis and chickenpox. Vaccines partly work thanks to herd immunity, in which a population is protected from an infectious disease because the vast majority of people have been vaccinated against it. That not only means an individual won't fall ill themselves, they are also less likely to pass it to the most vulnerable who can't receive vaccines because their immune system is too weak. Newborn babies and children with cancer fall into this category.

A nationally representative total of 2,032 parents with at least one child aged between 0 to 18 filled out the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. It revealed that 28 percent of parents said the doctor's office should ask the parents of unvaccinated children to find them another healthcare provider.

Parents also suggested changing the access of such families. Some 17 percent saying unvaccinated kids shouldn't be allowed in the waiting room, while 27 percent said they should wear a mask. However, 28 percent said the children should be able to access care regardless of their status.

A total of 43 percent of parents said they would want to know if children with no vaccines were seen at their child's primary care office. A further 33 percent said they would not want to be informed. Also, 29 percent of parents said they were somewhat likely to change their child's healthcare provider if they knew it was shared with unvaccinated patients.

Sarah Clark Co-Director, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan, told Newsweek: "During recent outbreaks of measles, many infected individuals sought care at healthcare facilities—unwittingly placing other patients at risk."

She said she was surprised to find that "three-quarters of parents want their child's healthcare provider to place some type of restriction on children who are completely unvaccinated—either leave the practice, don't use the waiting room, or wear a mask. This indicates that parents recognize that there is a real risk of disease transmission."

Parents who are worried that unvaccinated children are visiting their family physician should ask their child's doctor if there is a policy in place.

"If not, parents can ask how many patients are unvaccinated. In most cases, parents would have no other way to check if other patients have been vaccinated," according to Clark. Worried parents should express their concerns to their child's provider, she added.

Clark advised parents who are concerned about vaccines to talk to their child's healthcare provider or public health department, but "avoid YouTube, Facebook or other known sources of misinformation about vaccines."

Clark added vaccines should be compulsory.

"Compulsory vaccination works—that's why vaccination rates jump to more than 98 percent at school entry. It's unclear whether parents recognize that schools are great settings for children to share germs/transmit disease, or whether school vaccine requirements are the impetus for parents to overcome their inertia to bring their child in for vaccines. I suspect it's the latter."

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A stock image of a doctor examining a small child. A poll has revealed parents' attitudes towards unvaccinated children in doctors' offices. Getty