Austin Regional Clinic won’t accept unvaccinated children

Strengthening vaccination policy post-measles outbreak

Cameron Fierro
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Regional Clinic, also known as ARC, is strengthening its vaccination policy, meaning it won’t be accepting children who don’t have their vaccinations. On the heels of a measles outbreak, the new policy goes into effect July 1 and requires all pediatric patients to be vaccinated.

“More than 400,000 infants, children, adolescents, adults and seniors trust ARC for their health needs. It is our responsibility to ensure our facilities are safe for all of them,” said ARC Chief Medical Officer Russ Krienke, MD. “And while we respect the right of families to make their own choices for their children, we also respect the trust our patients put in us to ensure the safety of all, and our policies must honor that trust.”

ARC officials say the new vaccination standards reflect current recommendations from two leading health authorities: the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new policy

  • As of July 1, 2015, ARC physicians will no longer accept new pediatric patients whose parents/guardians will not permit vaccination.
  • For current patient families with unvaccinated children, ARC physicians will discuss concerns in order to begin implementing the CDC vaccination catch-up schedule. Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC.
  • ARC will continue to accept new pediatric patients and retain established pediatric patients who have compromised immune systems, or have documented adverse reactions to vaccines. ARC encourages parents to work with their ARC physician to determine if and when specific vaccines can be administered.

ARC officials say their primary concern is the safety of its patients.

“The recent measles outbreak started with just one case in California – stemming from Disneyland — and led to over 115 cases in at least 21 states,” said officials in a press release. “The outbreak reemphasized how easily measles and other dangerous, vaccine-preventable illnesses can spread and how important it is to maintain safe facilities for patients.”

The vaccination policy has been revised so that ARC clinics will not pose health risks to its most vulnerable patients, such as infants who have not yet received the full spectrum of vaccines, frail seniors, pregnant women and people with other conditions that comprise their immune systems.

For more information, you can call ARC at 512-272-4636 or review the updated policy on the ARC website.

That leaves Michelle Sncheider’s kids out. Her older, 7 years old, is fully vaccinated. But after Michelle’s middle child had reactions to shots, she chose to stop. Her youngest, at two years old, has not been vaccinated.

“Now, you look back and you want to kick yourself for not picking up on these things and putting them together quicker,” said Schneider.

That decision leaves people like Michelle with one less option, for choosing not to vaccinate.

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