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Local Pediatricians Refusing To See Non-Vaccinated Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Chris Barnes, 11, is getting his latest round of vaccinations for measles and tetanus.

"It doesn't really scare me as much as other people, it's just a shot," he said.

Without regular immunizations, Chris would be turned away at his pediatrician's office.

Dr. Wayne Yankus refuses to see patients unless they follow the government recommended immunization schedule.

He says he's among a growing number of pediatricians who don't give parents the option of delaying child vaccines.

"These things prevent diseases that we don't have to see anymore," Dr. Yankus said.

About 30 to 40 percent of pediatrics practices in the Pittsburgh area have the same policy. They say contagious diseases can be brought into their waiting rooms by unimmunized children and it can take a lot of effort countering the misinformation on vaccines.

"I think it's a challenge, trying to understand where they're coming from. Obviously there are different belief systems," Dr. Keith Sommers, a pediatrician at Children's Community Pediatrics in East Liberty, said. "Trying to convert them isn't necessarily the idea, it's to try to educate them on what the benefits are, and why they would want to do this for their child."

They say they're just keeping in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations to promote vaccines for all children and the benefits.

"Crossing the street you actually probably have more risk doing that on any given day than any of these vaccines that we give," he adds.

He's had to turn families away for refusing routine vaccination.

"We'll see them for a few visits, try to give them the materials, the education about the value of vaccines," he says about the process, "and some know [our policy] and decide they're going to go on elsewhere and find other medical care, and there is other medical care available."

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