July 10, 2015
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Parents view vaccine safety, benefits more favorably

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Parents’ opinions on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines have shifted toward more of a benefit and less of a threat, according to the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

“Outbreaks of diseases that can safely be prevented through routine childhood vaccination have become more common in the U.S. over the last several years,” Matthew, M. Davis, MD, MAPP, director of the National Poll on Children’s Health, wrote. “These poll results may indicate that outbreaks of diseases such as whooping cough and measles, and information from various sources about related issues such as vaccine benefits and safety, are influencing the opinions of one-quarter to one-third of parents across the U.S. toward stronger belief in the positive aspects of vaccines.”

image of matthew davis

Matthew Davis

Researchers polled 1,416 parents of at least one child in May. Participants were asked if they thought vaccines had more benefit, the same benefit, or less benefit than they did 1 year ago. They also were asked if they thought vaccines were safer, had the same safety, or were less safe than they were 1 year earlier. The researchers also included questions regarding vaccination requirement in schools and day cares, along with questions on the risk level of measles and whooping cough outbreaks.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they thought vaccines were more beneficial than they were 1 year ago, 61% said vaccines were the same, and 5% said vaccines were less beneficial. Regarding vaccine safety, 25% of those polled thought vaccines were safer, 68% said their feelings had not changed, and 7% responded that they felt vaccines were less safe. Thirty-five percent of parents also were more supportive of stricter vaccination requirements for schools and day cares, 59% said their feelings were unchanged and 7% expressed less support than they did 1 year ago.

Between 45% and 49% of parents said the risk level for whooping cough or measles outbreaks nationwide had not changed from the previous year.

“Ultimately, the impact of such shifts in parents’ beliefs will be measured by how many children are vaccinated in the months and years ahead,” Davis wrote. “Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases may be leading parents to perceive greater benefits and safety of childhood immunizations, but beliefs must translate into vaccination.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.