Please read the short case study and answer the questions below.

Case Study:

Treating Children Whose Parents Refuse to Have Them Vaccinated

Dr. Feyn, a Denver pediatrician, mentions to his colleague Dr. Manning that parents’ refusal of vaccines for their children has become more popular among parents in his patient panel in the last 5 years. “Most of these parents have similar reasons for choosing not to vaccinate their children. They cite alternative vaccination schedules, celebrity campaigns against vaccine side effects, even online forum discussions with other parents.”

Dr. Manning responds, “The CDC has recommended schedules for vaccination, but I know you would like to respect the discretion of patients and parents of patients as much as possible. So what are you going to do?”

“In the past I have documented the vaccine refusal and moved on, but I’m considering changing my approach,” Dr. Feyn responds. “As the number of unvaccinated children in my practice increases, I wonder if I am creating a risky environment for vaccine-preventable infections in my community. We recently witnessed an outbreak of pertussis nearby in Boulder because the percentage of immunized kids at a certain school was below threshold necessary for herd immunity.

“I’m thinking of insisting that my patients receive vaccinations according to the standard schedule, unless, of course, there is a specific health-related reason why an individual child should not be vaccinated. I am also considering not treating children in my practice unless they are vaccinated. What do you think of that?”


  1. What ethical issues are present in this case?
  2. What features of the case are relevant to the moral decisions Dr. Feyn faces?
  3. Which principles come into play with this case?
  4. How would the utilitarian theory assess this case?
  5. Please create a thread in which you begin the utilitarian analysis of the case using the aforementioned case study. A starting point and/or something to consider in order to apply this theory to ethical decision-making.


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