Gallup survey shows that Americans remain poorly informed about vaccines

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Image: AP

Many Americans have lost faith in the importance of vaccines in the past two decades, while more than half are not sure or mistakenly believe they can cause autism. At least, those are the bleak conclusions of a new Gallup survey released on tuesday. Even worse, parents of children under 18 have become more skeptical about vaccines since 2015.

The survey, conducted by Gallup, interviewed just over 1,000 adults in the United States by phone last month. Among the questions asked are: “How important is it for parents to vaccinate their children: extremely important, very important, something important, unimportant or nothing important?”

Only 84 percent of people agreed that childhood vaccination was extremely or very important, according to the survey. That percentage has not changed since a similar Gallup survey conducted in 2015, but a 94 percent decline in people who said the same thing in a 2001 Gallup poll continues. In addition, while 85 percent of people with children Children under 18 said vaccines were crucial in 2015, only 77 percent said so in 2019.

The figures are even more daunting if we consider that 2019 provided some of the clearest examples of why vaccines are so important. The United States. faced the bigger shoots of measles seen since the early 1990s last year, with about 1,300 cases reported in 31 states (in addition to the millions of dollars it took to contain the highly contagious viral disease). And countries in other places have experienced their own surprise. measles resurgence, including a massive outbreak on the small island of Samoa that made 5,000 people sick and killed 70, mostly children under 5.

Gallup’s findings also demonstrate how long the harmful myths about vaccination have been. 46% said they were not sure if vaccines could cause autism, while 10% said yes. In truth, the proposed link between vaccines and autism, fueled by the anti-vaccination movement, has long been discredited.

Nor is it necessarily that people are not familiar with the benefits of vaccines. Nearly 90 percent said they had heard a “large amount” or a “fair amount” about the benefits of vaccination, compared to 79 percent who said the same about possible disadvantages. In total, 86 percent agreed that vaccines are no more dangerous than the diseases they try to prevent.

Scientists and public health researchers have struggled to find the best message to get people skeptical of vaccines to light, with no clear winning strategies so far. But at least in the Gallup survey, people under 30 or over 65 were more likely to see vaccination as crucial and know for sure that vaccines do not cause autism, just like those who obtained a college degree or identified As Democrats


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