Denied Medical Care Guide

for patients denied medical care and services due to religious exemption and not vaccinating

                  Are you being denied medical care by pediatricians/doctors because of religious exemption, refusing certain vaccines or wanting alternative vaccine schedules?                           

Are you having difficulty finding a pediatrician/doctor who will accept you or your children as patients?

Doctors denying care to parents/patients who decline vaccines is a growing and disturbing trend in forcing vaccine compliance. Many pediatricians strictly adhere to the CDC recommended schedule regardless of health circumstances of the patient or the parent’s wishes and are unwilling to work with parents on a modified schedule or make exceptions in the case of certain vaccines a parent may wish to decline or defer.

Where refusal of vaccines is due to religious conflict, private practice pediatricians/doctors may ultimately decline care regardless the constitutional protections afforded religious freedom and the statutory provision in the vaccine law for religious exemption.

  • There are valid medical and philosophical/religious reasons why one should decline vaccines, yet many doctors are exercising their right to deny services/care where the patient declines their recommendations.
  • Government agencies and health care providers that accept government assistance/funds are obligated to uphold anti-discrimination laws including religious freedom rights. Health care providers in the private sector are not legally bound to uphold anti-discrimination laws. They are not obligated to provide medical care or perform specific medical procedures. They may accept/deny patients on the basis of any criteria. Thus, they may refuse non-vaccinated patients, patients with religious exemption and parents wanting an alternative vaccine schedule.
  • Health care freedom and informed consent works both ways. Both private practice doctor and patient are entitled to exercise their right to make choices in accordance with their conscience where their right to do so exists. Both doctor and patient have the right to accept/decline what they are being asked to do.

Conventional medicine is the widely accepted primary system of health care used in our society. Government promotes and sanctions the means by which this medical system provides for the public health. Infectious disease control is a primary goal of government where the pharmaceutical industry and conventional medical doctors provide the means by which public health goals are met. For this system, infectious disease prevention is predicated on the belief that vaccination is the most effective way to achieve this public health goal.

Many people (including doctors, judges and even clergy) assume that in the case of vaccination and the public health, informed consent and moral conscience are null and void. Many are willing to ignore or dismiss the growing evidence of harm, deny religious exemption and withhold care/services in their pursuit to force vaccine compliance.

  • Vaccine policy on childhood vaccines is “all or nothing”. You may not decline certain vaccines while accepting others. Concern about vaccine safety is not a valid exemption qualification. A medical exemption allows for certain vaccines to be withheld or administered on an alternative schedule. Unless your doctor feels that your child is medically at risk for adverse effects from vaccines or you have a religious conflict (exemption), all required vaccines are necessary for admission to public and private schools.

What can you do?

  • If you are committed to your beliefs and are being denied medical care/services due to not vaccinating, your only choice may be to seek health care elsewhere. There are doctors who will gladly accept you and your family as patients. Find a doctor who is respectful of your beliefs and who honors citizen and parental rights.

Stand your ground.

If you do not vaccinate or conform to the childhood “all or nothing” template, you may be denied services or acceptance by family, friends, doctors, groups, etc. The pressure to conform can make it difficult to stand firmly committed to your spiritual beliefs and religious freedom rights.

Know the law.

Many people you will be dealing with on vaccine matters are uninformed or misinformed about vaccine laws and may give you wrong information. They may presume they have authority to force compliance or deny care/services when they may not have this authority. Always be prepared with facts and conviction when your rights are being denied.

  • Know the laws better than those with whom you have to deal with when exercising your right to exemptions and health care choices. Have a clear understanding of the law and the provisions for religious exemption. 
  • Know that Florida law provides for exemption from vaccine requirements due to medical contraindication and religious conflict. Agents acting on behalf of the state in vaccination matters are prohibited from requesting administrative proof that explains the exemption recipient’s religious beliefs or that proves membership in an acceptable or specific religion.

see FAQs about Florida Statutes

see FAQs about Religious Exemption 

When exercising your right to religious exemption, be aware that many county health officials and physicians will assume that your objection is not due to religious conflict but due to concerns about vaccine safety issues. Therefore you need to know the law and be committed to your beliefs.

Know AAP policy.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) advises pediatricians to be respectful of parents refusing to vaccinate, recognizing that parents may not use the same decision criteria as the physician and may weigh evidence differently than does the physician. The AAP advises doctors to show a respectful attitude while ascertaining and addressing the reasons for refusal.

The AAP and many doctors consider that refusal to vaccinate is due to concerns about safety. Expect your doctor to discuss these issues with you even though they do not apply to parents choosing to exercise their right to religious exemption.

Where refusal to vaccinate is due to concern about risks, the administration of multiple vaccines or declining specific vaccines, the AAP advises educating the parent/patient about the benefits of vaccination and the risks to child and community if the child is not vaccinated. 

  • For parents who refuse one or more vaccines, the AAP encourages doctors to document discussions with the parent, revisit the vaccine discussion at each subsequent appointment and have the parent sign a vaccine refusal waiver.

In reviewing the AAP policy statements regards refusal to vaccinate, religious conflict does not seem to factor into the refusal to vaccinate equation. The AAP says that after repeated discussions and “despite doctors’ and nurses’ best efforts to explain the importance of vaccines and to address parental concerns about vaccine safety, some families will refuse vaccination for their children.” Evidently the AAP and some doctors presume that parents and patients refuse to vaccinate because of concerns about vaccine safety and not because of their commitment to religious beliefs.

  • When significant differences in philosophy of care emerge, a substantial level of distrust develops, or poor quality of communication persists, the AAP advises that the pediatrician can choose to encourage the family to find another physician or practice after providing sufficient advance notice in writing to the patient or custodial parent or legal guardian to permit another health care professional to be secured.
  • Remember that any doctor or medical facility that accepts state or federal funding must adhere to state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including religious freedom and laws with provision for religious exemption.

Know Contraindications and Side Effects.

The AAP and many doctors believe that scientific data solidly supports the claim that vaccines are safe, effective and necessary and that concerns about risks, deaths and harmful side effects are taken out of context in the media and on “unmonitored” websites, causing unrealistic fears.

  • When your doctor discusses the benefits of vaccines and risks of not being vaccinated, be aware that doctors and vaccine manufacturers have been granted immunity from liability should injury, death and other adverse events occur after vaccinations.
  • Be aware of the risks for serious injury and death associated with vaccines in the event the pediatrician/doctor does not discuss these with you.

See CDC guide for contra-indications and precautions

See CDC guide for possible side effects from vaccines

See CDC guide for who should NOT get vaccinated with certain vaccines

Search for a doctor.

If your doctor or pediatrician denies medical care or no longer accepts you or your children as patients due to non-vaccination:

  • Google search all the pediatricians in your area. Call them and ask them if they accept non-vaccinated children and allow for alternative vaccination schedules.
  • Google search family practice doctors in your area. Unless a child has a chronic illness and needs specialist pediatric care, a primary care family practice physician can provide medical care for your whole family.
  • Visit Ask Dr. Sears for a list of published non-vax friendly physicians in your area.
  • Consult local health food stores, autism groups, your church and open forums on the internet to find people in your area that support you and can help you find a supportive physician.
  • Seek alternative health care for wellness via internet, local groups, doctor referrals

Holistic Pediatric Alliance
Holistic Pediatric Association