Should Doctors Treat Kids Whose Parents Won't Vaccinate?

TOLEDO More cases of measles are reported across the country in what's being called the nation's worst and longest outbreak of the virus in decades. The problem is even prompting one community in New York to issue a state of emergency. And there are now 22 confirmed cases of measles in Oakland and Wayne County, Michigan. As the outbreak is drawing closer to the Ohio Boarder the Lucas County Health Department and local doctors are outlining their vaccine policies.

Under the declaration, which lasts for at least 30 days, anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles is barred from public gathering places, including shopping malls, civic centers, schools, restaurants and even houses of worship. (Source: Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force/MGN)

Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski says if we get a case of the measles in our area, children who are not vaccinated will be excluded from school for 21 days from the time of exposure. The health department has the backing of the Ohio Revised Code. It allows the health department to use the measures necessary to isolate the spread of the measles virus and ensure the safety of the public.

What you need to know about the measles virus is that it is highly contagious. Franklin Park Pediatrician Dr. John McBride says "If you are not vaccinated and you are not immune to measles and somebody walked into a room two hours ago with the measles, you walk in now and you will have a 99% chance of developing the measles."

Because the measles can easily be deadly, causing pneumonia, or even swelling of the brain Franklin Park Pediatrics refuses to accept patients unless the parents vaccinate. "We have a lot of babies who are too young to receive vaccinations, we have children who have cancer who are on chemotherapy that's really destroying their immune system, and we have pregnant moms in our office and we can't put them at risk," says McBride.

On the other side of that is Pediatrician Dr. Michael Pappas. He agrees in every way that kids need to be vaccinated. But his practice doesn't discharge families if they choose not to, "I don't think putting a deadline up and saying it's my way or the highway continues any dialogues," says Pappas. Pappas goes on to say "I try to work with parents on their understanding. Their reason gives into fear more than objective data and science and medical advise." Pappas is also a critical care specialist and he says he's treated kids who ended up dying from the flu and chicken pox. Both can be prevented with a vaccine and the parents reaction when they lose their child? "They always tell you I never thought it would be my child that would die."