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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What America Thinks: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

The outbreak of measles on the West Coast has highlighted the ongoing debate about the safety of vaccinations for children. Medical professionals strongly support vaccinations and say there is no scientific evidence that they do more harm than good. But a growing group of so-called “anti-vaxxers” are choosing not to vaccinate their children, believing they cause developmental disorders like autism. We decided to find out what America thinks.

Most Americans think the measles virus is spreading more quickly because some parents are opting out of vaccinating their children. With this new spread of measles, it’s perhaps no surprise that most Americans worry unvaccinated children will cause health problems for other children. Some children can’t receive vaccinations due to medical issues or allergies, but when enough people in a community are vaccinated, it creates what’s known as “herd immunity,” effectively preventing the diseases from ever entering the community, therefore protecting the unvaccinated.

However, Americans are divided over the safety of vaccines: half are concerned about whether they’re safe for kids, while half don’t. But just 10% blame a rise in autism cases on certain vaccines. Thirty-nine percent (39%) think increased awareness and detection have more to do with the rise in diagnosed cases than anything else.

An overwhelming majority of Americans with kids under 18 say their children have received all their vaccinations, and more than three-quarters of all adults think the law should require all students to be fully vaccinated before being allowed to attend school, barring medical exemptions, of course. But that doesn’t mean safety concerns will just go away.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Alex Boyer. Remember, if it’s in the news, it’s in our polls.