A new poll from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) finds that Americans broadly support (84 percent) requirements for parents to have children vaccinated against preventable diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella in order to attend school.
But the poll also shows limited trust in vaccines and public health agencies. Just about half of adults (54 percent) think childhood vaccines are “very safe” for most children and only a third (37 percent) say they trust public health agencies “a great deal” for information about childhood vaccine safety.
“The public’s limited trust in both childhood vaccines and public health agencies makes room for anti-vaccine sentiment in exemption policy debates,” says Dr. Gillian K. SteelFisher, senior research scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School and assistant director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. “Public health agencies need to partner with trusted health professionals, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, in order to protect public policy support for vaccines and ultimately children.”
Younger people (age 18-34) are less likely than the oldest generation (age 65+) to believe childhood vaccines are “very safe” (48 percent vs. 61 percent) or trust public health agencies for information about childhood vaccine safety (31 percent vs. 44 percent).
Among parents of children under 18, about one in seven (15 percent) say they have delayed or not given their child vaccines because of concerns about safety. Parents of children under 18 do not differ from those without children with respect to policy support, trust in vaccines, or trust in public health agencies for vaccine safety information.
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