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Some Doctors Won't Treat Unvaccinated Kids

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some doctors are now taking a stand. They are refusing to treat young patients who have not received their childhood vaccinations.

As CBS 2's Mary Kay Kleist reports, doctors say it's an effort to encourage good health and to keep their waiting rooms disease free. Other doctors are saying there's another solution.

Lori Buher says she will never forget the night her healthy teenage son Carl fell terribly ill and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

"We couldn't even conceive that it had happened so quickly," Buher said. "And here they were telling us he was going to die."

Carl didn't die, but he lost both legs and three fingers to a disease he could have been vaccinated against.

Carl's heartbreaking story is exactly the kind of thing pediatrician Dr. Bradley Dyer wants to prevent. He's made childhood vaccinations mandatory at his practice.

"If a caregiver or parent decides not to vaccinate their children, we feel that they're taking an unnecessary risk, so we wanted to take a strong stand and say this is so important to us that it's a deal-breaker for us," Dyer said

Dyer said he has turned away families who have refused vaccinations and encourages other doctors to do the same.

Fellow pediatrician, Dr. Scott Goldstein, said he takes a different approach to patients who worry about vaccinating their children.

"I don't think it's the best idea to turn patients away, just because they don't want to vaccinate," he said.

Goldstein and his colleagues prefer to educate parents about vaccine benefits.

"My biggest concern is that they're misinformed, he said. "I think anybody, when they're confronted with appropriate information, will see the light and want to get the vaccines."

Goldstein's office has been successful in educating parents about the benefits of vaccinations. All of the patients there have been vaccinated.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not turning away unvaccinated patients, but can understand why some doctors do.

"In 2008, three babies who were too young to be vaccinated ended up getting measles from an unvaccinated child who had measles in the waiting room of their doctor's office," Dr. Ari Brown said.

As for Buher, she's now a firm believer in immunizations.

"There are so many things we can't protect our children from. Why not protect them from things that we can?" she said.

Instead of turning patients away, some doctors have suggested parents who don't get their children vaccinated should sign waivers or be charged higher insurance premiums.

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