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Vaccine News and Commentary

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ethics and Vaccine Refusal

Amid recent news detailing increases in non-medical exemptions from state vaccination requirements and physician experiences with alternative childhood immunization schedules, the latest issue of Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice is devoted entirely to vaccination. The dozen papers included in the issue explore a variety of topics related to the science and administration of vaccines, with a particular focus on issues relevant to primary care physicians.

Among the papers is "Vaccination Refusal: Ethics, Individual Rights, and the Common Good," by Jason L. Schwartz and Arthur L. Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics (and VaccineEthics.org). Here is the paper's abstract:
"Among the obstacles to the success of vaccination programs is the apparent recent increase in hesitancy and outright resistance to the recommended vaccination schedule by some parents and patients. This article reviews the spectrum of patient or parental attitudes that may be described as vaccine refusal, explores related ethical considerations in the context of the doctor-patient relationship and public health, and evaluates the possible responses of physicians when encountering resistance to vaccination recommendations. Health care providers should view individuals hesitant about or opposed to vaccines not as frustrations or threats to public health, but as opportunities to educate and inform."
A subscription is required for access to the full paper. Interested readers without such access may contact us for a personal copy.

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