International Conference to Tackle Ethical Controversies in Childhood Immunizations

Debates on vaccine development, availability and policy, and the rights of parents, physicians and children to be held at Children's.

Debates on vaccine development, availability and policy, and the rights of parents, physicians and children to be held at Children's.

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the nation’s first center dedicated solely to the study of research and health care for children, will host its second annual conference on July 14-15, 2006 in Seattle.

The conference will feature national experts leading discussions on vaccine policy, availability and research. Conference participants will offer viewpoints on issues ranging from a parent’s right not to immunize their child to a physician’s right to “fire” a non-immunized patient.

“We are inviting outstanding leaders in the field to look at the most controversial ethical topics surrounding the vaccination of children, vaccine development, vaccine policy and the balance between public health and individual preference,” said Doug Diekema, M.D., the center’s interim director.

With a focus on global and national issues, this conference will address many ethical questions related to immunizations such as:

  • Do “wealthy” nations have an ethical obligation to develop vaccines for diseases that occur primarily in developing nations and to fund vaccination programs for children of impoverished nations?
  • Is it appropriate to do human vaccine testing in developing nations and, if so, under what conditions?
  • How should priorities be set regarding the development of new vaccines?
  • How should vaccines be distributed in a crisis or shortage situation?
  • Should vaccination programs be government funded or market based?
  • Should parents be able to refuse vaccinations for their children?
  • How should health care providers respond to parents who are reluctant to vaccinate their children? What about those who refuse?
  • When does the community interest in public health justify restricting the freedom to choose regarding vaccination?
  • Are school immunization requirements too restrictive, too weak or appropriately written?

“Immunizations pose many challenging issues. The conference will encourage discussion and collaboration among vaccine experts, institutions, researchers, policy makers and health care providers,” said F. Bruder Stapleton, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief at Seattle Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine.

“As a result of these discussions we hope to increase awareness, understanding and tolerance of divergent views on the ethical and medical issues surrounding immunizations.”

For more information on the conference please visit the conference website.

Attendees and media may register for the conference online.

About the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics

Launched in December 2004 as a resource for patients, parents, health care providers and researchers, the center’s purpose is to:

  • Promote scholarship on ethical issues related to pediatric health services delivery, pediatrics research and genetics
  • Train the next generation of pediatricians and bioethicists about pediatric bioethics
  • Provide consultation and collaborative services to families, health care providers, researchers and policymakers about pediatric bioethics
  • Improve pediatric bioethics practices and policies on a national and international level

Delivering health care to children and involving children in research raises different questions than those related to adult health care. For example, the extent in which a child can participate in the decision-making for his or her health care varies with each child and each situation.

The relationship and communication that occur between a parent, health care provider or researcher, and a child are critical in assuring that the interests of the child are appropriately advocated.

Last year, Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Board of Trustees renamed the center in honor of retiring CEO Treuman Katz, to recognize his commitment to pediatric bioethics.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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