New AAFP Policy Rejects Nonmedical Immunization Exemptions

October 12, 2015 12:05 pm Chris Crawford
[Female health care worker giving young boy shot in arm]

On Oct. 5, the AAFP took a step forward in the fight to overcome unwarranted vaccination fears to stand alongside groups such as the AMA and a growing number of state governments that have said immunization exemptions are detrimental to society unless given only for medical reasons.

"In the last few years, we've seen more and more people recklessly forgo vaccinations," AAFP President Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., of York, Pa., said in a statement. "Some people even refuse to vaccinate their children. In doing so, they put everyone around them at risk.

"Enough is enough. Science has settled this issue. Not only are vaccines safe, they save lives."

AAFP 2015-16 Influenza Prevention Recommendations

The Academy recently posted its 2015-16 influenza prevention recommendations, which mirror those developed by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices(

The AAFP recommends routine annual influenza vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older who doesn't have a medical contraindication. The Academy further states that healthy children ages 2-8 who have no contraindications or precautions may receive either live attenuated influenza vaccine or inactivated influenza vaccine.

Specific immunization recommendations are available for pregnant women, health care personnel and people with an egg allergy. In addition, the AAFP has posted its triage protocol for suspected influenza infection(147 KB PDF).

The new policy reaffirms the Academy's longstanding support for immunization of infants, children, adolescents and adults as defined by recommendations from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and approved by the AAFP.

What the new policy adds is that the Academy does not support immunization exemption policies that permit vaccine refusal for any reason other than a documented allergy or medical contraindication.

Jennifer Frost, M.D., medical director for the AAFP Health of the Public and Science Division, told AAFP News she thinks that, ironically, more parents are questioning the value of vaccinations in part because they are so effective.

"When the polio vaccine was released, most parents rejoiced that they could protect their children from this disease that could result in death or permanent paralysis," she said. "Because we have so effectively controlled these diseases, some parents believe they are no longer a threat."

Another reason parents choose not to vaccinate their children, Frost said, is because of false, yet widely publicized, information such as the discredited link between vaccines and autism.

"Parents who don't immunize their children believe that they are doing what's best for their child, but they are misinformed," she said. "In reality, they are putting their children and others at risk."

Related AAFP News Coverage
Report Recaps ACIP Recommendations for 2015-16 Influenza Season

California Mandates Vaccines for Children in School, Daycare
CAFP Actively Advocated for the Legislation

Conference Offers Platform to Share Immunization Successes
FP Champions Highlight Strategies to Boost Adolescent Vaccination Rates

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