Health and Healthcare

Growing Number of Americans Still Don't Think Vaccines Are Important

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There is an ongoing battle in the United States about whether vaccines are useful as a way to protect people, and in particular children, from a disease. A minority of the population believe that vaccines can cause some illnesses and medical conditions. The number of Americans who believe that vaccines are important has dropped recently.

A new Gallup poll shows that 84% of those questioned say that it is important or very important for parents to vaccinate their children. That is down from 94% in 2001. The opinion varies by age group, although people in most age ranges have opinions that are similar to the national average. People who are 65 years are older have a much higher portion who believe vaccination is important (91%). The figures also vary by education. Ninety percent of people with a post-graduate degree agree about the importance of vaccination.

Eleven percent of Americans believe that vaccination is more dangerous than the diseases it prevents. Once again, age and education are important. The figure drops to 7% for those 65 years old or older. Among those with post-graduate degrees, the figure is only 6%. And among college graduates, it is only 4%.

Among the reasons some Americans are worried about vaccinations is that it may cause autism, a hotly debated subject. One in 10 Americans thinks it is so. That figure drops to 5% among postgraduates and 6% of those with college degrees. It is also low among Americans with no children under 18 (7%).

Gallup explains why there may be skeptics of the safety of vaccines based on scientific evidence. “While they are not as pervasive and are being exposed as untrue, these counterarguments are still getting through, perhaps explaining why public support for vaccines remains lower than at the start of this century.” It seems crazy, but it’s true.

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