More than 90 percent of doctors believe the current measles outbreak can be laid at the feet of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated, a poll indicates.
SERMO, a social network for doctors, polled more than 3,000 of its 300,000 member physicians and found 92 percent said they attributed the current outbreak -- with more than 80 confirmed cases in 11 states -- to parents who do not vaccinate their kids.
In addition, two-thirds of the doctors polled said they believe children who are not vaccinated should not be allowed to attend public schools.
Some of the physicians said they don't allow families where children are not vaccinated to parts of their practices.
"I will not accept a child in my practice if they do not vaccinate," said Dr. Linda Girgis, a New Jersey family practitioner. "Measles kills one or two out of every 1,000 persons who become ill with it in the U.S. No child will die from a vaccine-preventable disease on my watch."
Other doctors said they don't go that far, but instead tray to educate so-called "anti-vaxxers."
"We have a large community of anti-vaxxers in my state and it would be difficult to refuse them outright," says one OBGYN. "Instead I use persuasion to try to educate them and make my advocacy position very clear. I have had some limited success with this tactic."
The rate of unvaccinated students in some California schools is as high as 30 percent, USA TODAY has reported.
Nineteen states currently allow parents who claim philosophical reasons or personal beliefs to opt out of vaccinating their children.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has weighed in on the matter, saying he understands parents "need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that's the balance that the government has to decide."
He did say he and his wife had their children vaccinated and think "it's an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health."
However, he generated fierce backlash when he went on to say, "Not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others."
The response, particularly on social media, was immediate and harsh, with even GOP strategist Rick Wilson calling Christie's remark "wildly irresponsible."
Christie, through a spokesman, tried to do damage control Monday.
"To be clear," the spokesman said, "the Governor believes vaccines are an important public health measure and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated."