Live and Let Die: Should Doctors Ditch Unvaccinated Kids?

Quiz: What do evangelical conservatives, hippy attachment parenting lefties, Katie Couric, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Jenny McCarthy have in common? Literally nothing, you might think? Wrong!

They all harbor mistrust or total hostility toward vaccines. The whole vaccination debate is becoming one of the biggest health controversies of the day, even though the biomedical community is essentially unanimous in its advocacy for vaccines as safe and effective barriers to disease. A recent development in the debate: whether doctors should screen patients who don’t vaccinate their children.

The argument goes that the physician-patient relationship requires some trust and respect for the doctor’s expertise. If a patient rejects that medical science can prove the validity of vaccines, why should the doctor trust that the patient will trust other conventional medical advice?

Clearly physicans make mistakes—both at the individual and industry level—so the issue comes down to identifying the deal-breakers in disagreements between biomedicine and alternative approaches.

It’s a tricky line to navigate, but when harrowing stories of some unvaccinated children come to light, and the United Kingdom and portions of the U.S. start mirroring sub-Saharan Africa in preventable disease outbreaks, maybe health professionals do have an obligation to start taking bolder measures.

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