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More Docs Turning Away Unvaccinated Patients

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - No shot, no service.

It sounds extreme, but that's how far some doctors are going to protect some of their patients.

A growing number of doctors are standing up to families who decide not to get vaccines for their kids.

The Griffith family in Dallas is one of those families that decided to at least delay vaccines for their three children.

They followed a standard vaccination schedule for their first son.

After researching vaccines though, and hearing stories about children who had bad reactions, they became just as concerned with what was going inside their kids, as they were with risk of disease from the outside world.

"That's a lot, in their little bodies," said Melissa Griffith. "At the time they're 20 pounds and they're getting essentially eight medications, eight vaccines in their little 20 pound body."

The Griffiths aren't a rare case. An October 2011 study found that more than one in 10 families don't follow recommended vaccination schedules and some people don't get the shots at all.

"Most people are not anti-vaccines," explained Dr. Jason Terk. "They're simply concerned or questioning."

The Keller doctor said he tries to ease vaccine concerns at his practice, but it's a topic that comes up there almost every week.

Dr. Terk feels so strongly about the good vaccines can do that when he can't change concerned parents minds, he has them change doctors. It's something he's done with a few of his patients in the last five years.

"I have made the decision in my practice I simply can't increase the risk to otherwise innocent patients in my practice," said Dr. Terk.

Often there are children in his office who are too young to be exposed to infectious diseases, or have weakened immune systems. He said he has as much responsibility to keep them safe, as he does the child who isn't receiving vaccines.

Some parents might feel that waiting a few months for vaccinations, until a child is older, might seem like a good compromise, but Dr. Terk said even that causes physicians to pause.

Vaccinations are scheduled for when a child is most vulnerable to disease and waiting can leave them exposed.

One survey shows one in five doctors have dropped patients who refuse vaccines.

While parent Melissa Griffith said being dropped would be irritating, she feels parents are probably better off with a doctor who understands their decision.

"Putting it on a timeline that you feel comfortable with, that the doctor feels comfortable with, to me that's the best case scenario," she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors work with patients as long as possible, but also gives physicians advice on discharging patients if necessary.

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