Fear of vaccines goes viral, especially among the affluent

Amanda Uhry, who runs a consultancy called Manhattan Private School Advisors, which, as its name suggests, helps parents through the private-school application process, said she recently turned down a half-dozen clients when she discovered that they were opposed to vaccination. For a long while she had never inquired about the issue, but a few years ago, a child she was working with missed his kindergarten interview because of whooping cough, which left her stunned.

“I thought, Whooping cough? Who gets whooping cough anymore?” she said. The episode compelled her to start asking about vaccination early on. “No application to any school asks, ‘Are you an anti-vaxxer?’ but these schools want to keep the anti-vaxxers out.” So, she said, “I ask people and if they get into the whole anti-vaxxer deal, I say, ‘Fine, we can’t work with you.’ ” You’re not, as she put it, “going to Horace Mann like this.”

There is enough appeal in anti-vaccination thinking among members of the affluent class that certain pediatricians in the city, as they have elsewhere around the country, have made it a policy in recent years to refuse to see children whose parents won’t have them immunized. A few years ago Pediatric Associates of NYC, which has branches in Murray Hill in Manhattan and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, chose this course, David Horwitz, a partner in the practice told me, in large part because it simply became untenable to have unvaccinated children sitting in waiting rooms.