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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Topic:  Harassment & Vaccine Schedules

Vaccine SchedulesQ: I was told that if I did not get all of my child’s vaccines according to the schedule that I would have to find a new pediatrician. Is this legal?

A: NVIC is contacted every day by parents who, for various reasons, want to vaccinate their children using a vaccination schedule that does not conform to the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Many are being told by their pediatricians to either find a new pediatrician or to sign a “refusal to vaccinate” form (NVIC does not advise signing the form. It will become a part of the legal record and is not required by law).

Pediatricians differ on whether this is an appropriate response to parents. Some feel that it is better to keep in their practice parents who have questions about vaccines and want to make vaccine decisions that do not conform to AAP and CDC recommendations. Other pediatricians have a "zero-tolerance" policy for non-compliance.

Although throwing a family out of a pediatric practice may be legal, it raises serious ethical and medical questions that contribute to parental fear and distrust of pediatricians. Parents faced with these situations will need to find a pediatrician, family practice physician or other qualified health professional who respects their right to become vaccine educated and make voluntary vaccination decisions.

Parents should understand that not all pediatricians believe that strict adherence to the CDC recommended vaccination schedule is in the child's best interest. Even so, it can be very difficult to find pediatricians who are willing to be flexible and work with parents because there is strong peer pressure among doctors to conform to policy promoted by medical organizations, such as the AAP and AMA, and government health officials.

In addition to finding a new pediatrician, NVIC encourages parents who have been kicked out of a pediatric practice to file a Harassment Report with NVIC. You can also find downloadable and printable graphics on our Ask 8 Vaccine Information Kiosk that contain helpful information and questions to ask your doctor.

Q: If I don't want to follow the CDC recommended vaccination schedule, what schedule does NVIC recommend?

A: NVIC does not recommend use, or non-use, of any particular vaccination schedule. NVIC does not give medical or legal advice. Parents, who have concerns about the administration of multiple vaccines given to children on a single day and who want to continue to vaccinate can become informed and choose an alternative schedule. Some parents decide which vaccines they want their children to have and then figure out when they want their child to receive certain vaccines.

Some parents decide to give only one vaccine at a time and lengthen the time between giving vaccines from two to four or more months. Others decide to get their children tested for antibody titers to see if they need additional vaccines to achieve antibody levels that are considered to be indicative of "being immune." There are a number of books and Internet sites that recommend various alternate vaccination schedules. NVIC does not monitor or comment on the safety or efficacy of particular vaccination schedules.

Q: Where can I get good information about vaccines so that I can make decisions for myself and family?

A: If you are asking these questions, you are on the right track. NVIC encourages all health care consumers to do their own research and engage in fully informed decision-making whenever considering a medical intervention or use of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines.

There is a large amount of information on NVIC's website including a list of resources containing websites, books, videos and other information on infectious diseases and vaccines. It is important to review information from many different perspectives, including visiting government-operated websites like the Centers for Disease Control and vaccine-promoting organizations and pharmaceutical company websites like the Immunization Action Coalition to fully understand all views about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

The key is to learn about the benefits and complications of both infectious diseases and vaccines and, after consultation with one or more trusted health care professionals and in consideration of vaccine contraindications and your child's personal and family medical histories, decide which course of action is most appropriate.

Q: I don't want to give vaccines so close together. What is the minimum time interval between vaccinations?

A:  There are some vaccines which should not be given together and there are recommended minimum time periods for intervals between vaccinations. For each of the vaccines, you can consult the CDC's recommended schedule and the manufacturer product inserts to learn about official recommendations for time periods between vaccinations.

Some people choose to wait for two to four months or more between vaccinations. Using all available information and/or working with a trusted health care professional, you may want to develop a tailored vaccination schedule that you are comfortable using.

Q: My employer is requesting that I undergo a TB (tuberculosis) test and I do not want to do this. What are my options?

A:  Because the TB test isn't a vaccine, per se, this concern is something that we do not routinely address. We are aware, however, that some employers and educational institutions will accept negative chest x-ray tests as evidence of TB status. Additionally, some states such as New Jersey have exemption forms specifically for TB testing concerns.

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