A third of parents now perceive vaccines as more beneficial than they did a year ago, according to a new poll. The multiple outbreaks of measles and whooping cough in the past year may have affected parents, whose views on vaccines are becoming more positive.
Researchers from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital designed the poll to measure the opinion of 1,416 parents around the U.S. on the benefits and safety of vaccines and whether there should be school entry requirements for vaccination. The poll found that 34% think vaccines are more beneficial, 25% thought vaccines were safer and 35% were more supportive of requiring vaccines for school admission than a year ago.
“Over the last year there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country,” said Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children's Health, in a statement.
High profile cases, like the measles outbreak at Disneyland and the first U.S. measles death in over a decade, have affected how parents view the risk of contracting illnesses like measles or whooping cough. Two out of every five parents believe a child's risk of contracting measles in the U.S. is higher than what it was a year ago.
Only 5% thought vaccines were less beneficial and less safe, while 6% were less supportive of requiring vaccines for school admission than they were last year. The vast majority of parents polled – 68% – didn't change their opinions on vaccines.
Davis told NPR: "These numbers are incredibly high, and suggest that parents are hearing about the outbreaks and responding." While parents appear to be more favorable to vaccination, Davis points out that “the impact of such shifts in perception will ultimately be measured by whether more parents vaccinate their kids.”