Some pediatricians tell parents: Vaccinate kids or go somewhere else

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OKEMOS, Mich. (WILX) - New York City has declared a public health emergency over the measles outbreak.

Unvaccinated children in certain zip codes are now required to receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, and anyone who has been in contact with someone infected -- also has to prove they've been vaccinated, or pay a $1,000 dollar fine.

The outbreak of the highly-contagious virus is growing by the week, including here in Michigan. Although 40 of the confirmed cases are on the east side of the state, a new case has popped up next door to Jackson County--in Washtenaw County.

With measles and other diseases slowly creeping their way through the state--doctors here in the area are on alert. Some are even telling parents to vaccinate their kids...or find another doctor.

"We have come up with a new policy in our group that we will not accept any new patients whose parents are not going to vaccinate their children," pediatrician Dr. Kenneth Stringer said.

It's not just new patients, MSU Pediatrics is telling current patients they need to get vaccinated or find a new practice. Dr. Stringer says the policy came about within the past month.

"It was even before this outbreak. We just knew there was a great need to have the appropriate vaccinations being given to children and that's why we came up with this policy."

The policy is detailed in a statement from doctors at MSU Westside, DeWitt, and Okemos Pediatrics. It says there are exceptions for cases where the vaccine could harm a patient. But the new policy tells parents "vaccinating children can be one of the most important health-promoting and life-saving intervention you can perform."

Dr. Stringer says he hasn't experienced much pushback from parents. He says policies like this are the only way to get illnesses like measles back under control.

"I think the medical community is doing a good job and aggressively taking care of this particular problem," he said.

A problem that can kill a child.

"I'm surprised with the number of illnesses that are out there that can be prevented with vaccines. It can be very beneficial to preventing bad illnesses...illnesses that can actually be life-threatening," he added.

Dr. Stringer advised parents to do their research before choosing not to vaccinate their kids. He says the vast majority of parents there choose to vaccinate their kids.

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