Pew Research: Vast majority of Americans support vaccination mandates
WASHINGTON — Most Americans support requiring the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for public school children in order to protect public health, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday. Responding a survey prior to the election, Americans believe there are high preventive health benefits of such vaccines, and low risk of side effects, and they consider the benefits of the vaccine to outweigh the risks.
"Yet, public concerns about childhood vaccines linger in the public discourse," wrote Cary Funk, associate director, research, Pew Research Center. "Despite assurances of vaccine safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and a host of other scientific bodies that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not cause autism, a number of prominent figures have expressed concerns about the safety of childhood vaccines," she noted.
Vaccination detractors often point to a now discredited and retracted research study published nearly two decades ago that raised questions about a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism, Funk said. And those detractors gained credibility during the election. "President Donald Trump raised questions about the safety of childhood vaccines on the campaign trail and during the transition period met with Robert Kennedy Jr. reportedly about the possibility of leading a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity," Funk said. Kennedy had edited a book that argues that a preservative used in some vaccines causes neurological disorders, including autism, she added.
A new Pew Research Center survey conducted prior to the election finds the “vaccine hesitant” views expressed by Trump and other public figures to be at odds with most Americans’ views. An overwhelming majority of Americans (82%) support requiring all healthy schoolchildren to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. Some 73% of Americans see high preventive health benefits from use of the MMR vaccine, and 66% believe there is a low risk of side effects from the vaccine.
Overall, 88% believe that the benefits of these inoculations outweigh the risks.
There are two groups that have notably different views about childhood vaccines than others, however. One is the 20% of adults who report they have used alternative medicine instead of traditional medicine. The other is 8% of Americans who report that they never take over-the-counter medications.
These are some of the findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,549 adults, ages 18 or older from May 10-June 6, 2016.
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