Doctors to vaccine refusers: Go somewhere else

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There's been a lot of talk in recent years about parents refusing to have their children immunized. They worry that common vaccines might lead to autism.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, more doctors "fire" vaccine refusers.

The sound of crying children is a familiar one at the Northwestern Children's Practice in Chicago.

That's because they require the parents of all their patients to agree to have their children vaccinated.

"Vaccines have done more than anything else over the past 100 years to help improve the health of children," said Dr. Scott Goldstein.

Dr. Goldstein and his partners announced the new policy last year. They knew that some parents wouldn't like it, and, well, they would just have to go. "If you don't believe in the fundamental thing we believe in," Dr. Goldstein said, "you need to go somewhere else."

But most, like Amy and Peter Malinosky agree about the importance of vaccination.

"It's good for her to keep her safe and healthy and also for the community, for some vulnerable populations out there who could get sick if she wasn't vaccinated," said Amy Malinosky.

"I think it makes a lot of sense," Peter Malinosky added. "I just don't want my child to be around kids who aren't vaccinated."

A survey by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found 25 percent of pediatricians have fired patients due to vaccine refusal. But it remains controversial. According to Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Pediatricians should avoid discharging patients from their practices solely because a parent refuses to immunize his or her child. However... the pediatrician may encourage the family to find another physician or practice.

While some parents remain convinced that vaccines could harm their children, Dr. Goldstein says the real danger is in not getting vaccinated. "Most people my age have never seen a case of polio or measles but when we ask our parents or grandparents they remember it very well. This is the best way to protect our kids."

Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the "relationship between parents and a pediatrician is a collaboration. It's a partnership, and you really need to see eye to eye on a lot of fundamental issues - like safety, disease prevention and how to best take care of your child."

Dr. Levine, a strong advocate of vaccines, says it's her role to educate parents. "I want to take the time to listen, hear what their concerns are and really explain the science behind it."

To see Erica Hill's report, go to the video in the player above.