WASHINGTON — According to new survey data recently released by the National Consumers League, one-third of adult Americans still believe that vaccines may be linked to autism in children. According to the survey, 33% of parents of children under the age of 18 and 29% of all adults continue to believe “vaccinations can cause autism.” Scientific studies have clarified that use of vaccines is not linked to autism in children, the NCL noted.
According to public health experts, the failure to vaccinate children has recently led to outbreaks of highly contagious, preventable and sometimes-deadly diseases, like whooping cough.
NCL’s survey of 1,756 U.S. adults, conducted online by Harris Poll in August and September, also found that 50% of parents are aware of the study that linked autism to childhood vaccinations, but only half of these parents are aware that the study has since been discredited and retracted.
While most Americans understand the benefits of vaccination, many still see it as an issue of individual choice. More than 4-in-5 (82%) adults agree that vaccinations help reduce health care costs, and 72% are concerned about the drop in vaccination rates in the United States. However, 60% say they respect the decision of parents when choosing whether or not to vaccinate their children.
Only two-in-five (39%) of parents surveyed describe themselves as being extremely or very knowledgeable about how vaccines work. But, among those, 35% also believe that vaccinations can cause autism.
A majority of adults (87%) and parents (81%) support mandatory vaccinations for school-aged children. As many as 76% of parents say that they think parents or guardians should have the final say about whether or not children should be vaccinated (vs. 64% of all adults).