Q: We've decided not to have our baby vaccinated. How do I find a doctor who will respect our decision?
A: We won't lie to you -- it will probably be difficult to find a pediatrician who will support your decision not to vaccinate your baby. Having your child vaccinated protects her against many serious -- and potentially life-threatening -- diseases. If you're concerned about vaccine safety or rumored links to autism, you should know that study after study continues to find no proof that vaccines cause autism or other health problems, and vaccines today are safer than ever. Many doctors refuse to treat unvaccinated children or those of parents who want to follow their own vaccination schedule. Some pediatricians may agree to see your child, but only if you sign a waiver that says you've declined vaccination and the doctor assumes no responsibility if the child becomes ill with a vaccine-preventable disease. While there's no list out there of "vaccine-sensitive" doctors, generally homeopathic physicians may be more supportive of a parent's decision to avoid vaccines. You can also speak to your obstetrician, who is probably very familiar with many of the pediatricians in your area, and may be able to direct you to one who will treat your baby even if she doesn't agree with your decision. Finding a pediatrician you like is important because you'll still need to bring your baby in regularly in for well visits to track her growth and make sure she's developing on track.
And remember, finding a pediatrician isn't your only issue -- you'll have another hurdle to face when it's time to start school. All states have laws that require kids to receive certain vaccines in order to attend school, so you may be required to get a state-issued vaccination exemption. Recently, these exemptions have become harder to come by unless you have a valid medical reason not to vaccinate, like an immune system condition -- and even then it may only excuse you from live-vaccine shots like MMR or chickenpox, which may be riskier for immune-suppressed kids.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.