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Many parents don't want unvaccinated kids in waiting rooms

A little girl and her doctor are giving each other a high five.

Sept. 5, 2019—How would you feel if you knew you and your child were sharing your doctor's waiting room with a family that refuses all vaccines?

Many parents wouldn't like it, according to a new survey. In fact, 4 out of 10 parents say they might move their child to a different doctor.

Most American kids get the recommended vaccines against diseases like measles or whooping cough. But doctors sometimes care for children whose parents reject all vaccines. And that can be a concern to parents who do vaccinate their kids. They don't want to worry about themselves or their children catching an infectious disease in their doctor's office.

The survey included 2,032 parents who had at least one child 18 years old or younger. It found that 38% of the parents weren't sure of their doctor's policy regarding vaccinating children, and even more (68%) were unaware of any waiting-room policies. The parents were divided on what those policies should be and whether they should be told that the doctor's practice includes kids who have never been vaccinated.

Just over 40% of the parents said they would want to know if there were families in their doctor's office who had refused all vaccines. One-third said they wouldn't want to know. And a little more than 40% said they might choose a different provider if they did know.

In addition:

  • 17% said a completely unvaccinated child should not be allowed in the waiting room.
  • 27% said the child should wear a mask in the waiting room.
  • 28% said the doctor should allow the child to get care without any restrictions.

As one of the researchers noted, parents who take their child to the doctor might assume they are in a setting that won't expose their child to diseases. They may not have considered there may be a family in the waiting room who has refused all vaccines. When parents do think about it, 7 in 10 said they would like their doctor to have some sort of policy about unvaccinated families.

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