Physicians who don't take a leadership stance on vaccine safety give credence to the discredited, unscientific reasons parents use to keep their children unvaccinated and they put the rest of us at risk.
The current multi-state measles outbreak compels physicians to take a tougher stance against parents who won't vaccinate their children.
Anne Schuchat, MD
We are barely a month into 2015, and already there have been more than 80 cases of measles—a serious childhood disease that was declared eradicated in the U.S. just 15 years ago—in 14 states. Most of the cases are linked to an outbreak that began at Disneyland in late 2014.
In a press conference with reporters last week, Anne Schuchat, MD, assistant surgeon general, United States Public Health Service and director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said she is worried that this seemingly small number could mushroom into a bigger public health epidemic.
"The very large outbreaks we have seen around the world often started with a small number of cases," Schuchat said. "I have told you before that France went from about 40 cases a year to over 10,000 cases in a year."
A survey from SERMO, a physician-only social network with 300,000 members, reports this week that 92% of doctors they polled attribute the current measles outbreak directly to parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
The gap in vaccination rates and the reasons these parents use to avoid vaccinating their kids shine a light on the fine line between physician respect to honor a patients' medical decisions and physician responsibility to public health.
Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.