SAN DIEGO -- Amid a California-centered measles outbreak, a growing number of physicians across the country and here in San Diego are taking on a controversial stance: get your kids vaccinated or find a new doctor.
Doctors are doing so to prevent the infection of other patients in their offices.
“Pediatricians are concerned that the reemergence of disease is a signal that bigger outbreaks are yet to come,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, local physician and infectious disease specialist for the American Academy of Pediatricians. Sawyer spoke at the Capitol about the reemergence of the measles.
“When one person is infected, people around them and people they do not even know become infected. The decision of a parent to leave their children unimmunized, however well-meaning, is a decision that affects us all,” Sawyer said.
But some parents say the choice to not immunize should not mean their children should not receive care.
"I don’t know how a doctor, you know, how he reconciles that in his head because he took an oath to treat patients,” said Rebecca Estepp.
Estepp was the only parent willing to speak to FOX 5. Other parents said they feared their children would be discriminated against.
Estepp said after her son suffered a vaccine injury as an infant, she chose to discontinue vaccinating both her children.
"A child is a child whether they’re vaccinated to the CDC schedule, or whether they’re missing a few, or whether they’re totally unvaccinated. I think they deserve medical care," Estepp said.
Still, doctors say that immunization is the most effective way of preventing communicable diseases like the measles.
“This measles outbreak, like all other measles outbreaks, are occurring because we have too many intentionally unimmunized children in the United States, and it illustrates the problem created by unimmunized populations.
Doctors not choosing to see unvaccinated patients are finding themselves at odds with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP says if pediatricians turn patients away from their offices, they in turn lose the opportunity to try and educate parents about the importance of vaccination.