February 2, 2015

Young adults more likely to say vaccinating kids should be a parental choice

Vaccines Public OpinionAs the number of measles cases linked to the California outbreak climbs to over 100, health officials are urging parents to properly immunize their children, citing unvaccinated individuals as a main contributor to the disease’s spread. Some have linked the outbreak to the anti-vaccination movement – a group whose members claim vaccinations are unsafe and ineffective.

A Pew Research Center report released last week shows that a majority of Americans say children should be required to get vaccinated. Further analysis of the survey data reveals significant age differences in views about vaccines. In 2009, by contrast, opinions about vaccines were roughly the same across age groups. Also, some modest partisan divisions have emerged since 2009, when Pew Research last polled on the issue.

Overall, 68% of U.S. adults say childhood vaccinations should be required, while 30% say parents should be able to decide. Among all age groups, young adults are more likely to say vaccinating children should be a parental choice. Some 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds say parents should be able to decide whether or not their child gets vaccinated; only 20% of adults 65 or older echo this opinion.

Measles Cases fall with vaccineOlder Americans are strong supporters of requiring childhood vaccinations – 79% say they hold that view, compared with 59% of those under 30. One possible reason that older groups might be more supportive of mandatory vaccinations is that many among them remember when diseases like measles were common. Prior to the first licensed measles vaccine in 1963, hundreds of thousands of measles cases were reported annually in the U.S. In 1958 alone, there were more than 750,000 cases. A decade later, in 1968, that number fell to about 22,000, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, measles cases are extremely rare, but the CDC reported a spike in 2014, with more than 600 measles cases, the first such jump in more than a decade. The CDC attributed the increase to an outbreak among unvaccinated Ohio Amish communities and cases related to an outbreak in the Philippines.

Although some have linked the anti-vaccination movement to more-affluent, highly educated parents, Pew Research data show little difference in people’s views based on income or education.

Vaccines Public OpinionAbout 30% of adults living in households earning $75,000 or more a year say parents should decide whether or not their child gets vaccinated. This holds true even among the highest of earners (those in households making $100,000 or more). These opinions are on par with people living in lower- and middle-income households.

Men and women share similar views on whether vaccines should be required or not and opinions on this issue vary little by race. At the same time, slightly more parents of minor children than those without children believe vaccinating children is a parental choice.

There are slight differences in views about vaccines along political lines. A majority of Democrats (76%), Republicans (65%) and independents (65%) say that vaccines should be required. But Republicans and independents are somewhat more inclined than are Democrats to say that parents should be able to decide. In 2009, there was no difference in views on vaccinations along party lines.

Topics: Health, Science and Innovation

  1. Photo of Monica Anderson

    is a research associate focusing on internet, science and technology at Pew Research Center.


  1. marie2 years ago

    Who will be accountable if anything happens to our kids??? Us!! We could of stopped this bill from being passed but most people are so gullible of what the pharmaceutical say. Well wake up they only care about making money. You should really be doing research of what they put in vaccines. Parents should have the choice if they want to vaccinate their kids. If anything happens then that’s on them. Parents that do the research they will know whats best. Newborns that are being vaccinated still have a little brain that is still developing. Getting vaccinated with so many vaccines with neuro toxins affect them in so many ways. You are hurting your kids. Kids don’t have a fully immune system till the age of five. We have better immune systems when we get sick and get better on our own.

  2. B Gregory2 years ago

    I grew up singing America the Beautiful, Yankee Doodle, God Bless America, and the Star Spangled Banner. I watch our citizens enter the military and fight for our rights. I remember people saying “I don’t like what you say, but I believe in the freedom of speech.”

    What happened? Now you can take your child to the hospital and your child is taken away from you because you wanted a second opinion.

    Doctors don’t all agree on everything. Where do you get the idea that medicine is based on black and white science?

    Well, that’s because we don’t have freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Because the newspapers, TV stations, radio, advertising are all controlled by 6 corporation and a small group of people. The same people who own the pharmaceutical companies.

    What I want to hear from the provaxers – is we need debate on TV and radio between the antivaxers and the provaxers. Lots of debate. Because if your side is right, it will stand up to open debate.

    You convince the antivaxers to get vaccinated. You don’t take away people’s freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, and personal freedom by making vaccines mandatory.

    America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. Don’t you still believe in that? I do.

    1. Nicole2 years ago

      There are plenty of things you aren’t allowed to do that make perfect sense. You’re not allowed to walk up to someone and punch them in the face. You’re not allowed to lock your child in a closet for days on end with no food or water. So why should parents be allowed to make a choice that endangers the lives of their child and everyone around them?

  3. slightlyblueeyes2 years ago

    Before ANY of you so called child vaccines supporters say anything… what about our ancestors that lived prior too vaccinations… how did the human race manage to survive prior to EDWARD JENNER’s FREAKISH EXPERIMENTS . If the vaccines were safe then why did the Corrupt senate/congress pass paws to protect the BIG Pharma companies from being sued by the ADVERSE side effects of their drug experiments.?????

    IN case none of you know who EDWARD JENNER’s is, he made one of the first vaccinations and he did so by EXPERIMENTING ON HIS OWN INFANT 10 month year old son until he was 21 and dead because of all of the illness and infections his own father gave him. Sad that parents whom vaccinate their kids don’t look into this creep further.

    In summary, the variolation process, in addition to being highly unpleasant (some called it cruel) and without any guarantees of success, also increased the risk of spreading the disease and making the epidemic worse. Clearly, something better was desperately needed.Then in 1789, when Jenner was 40 years old and married only a little more than a year, there was in Gloucestershire an outbreak of swinepox, a disease very like cowpox except that it attacked pigs rather than cows. Jenner decided (just after he had been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society) to try immunizing his ten month old son, Edward, Jr, and two of his neighbor’s servants, by inoculating them with swinepox. He had learned well from his famous teacher, Dr John Hunter, that one will learn more by “trying the experiment” rather than by just speculating about it. So Jenner performed the experiment by making a small scratch on the servants’ and the baby’s arms with a lancet and then infecting the scratch “with matter from a pustule of the baby’s nurse, who had caught the swinepox infection.” Eight days later baby Edward took sick and developed sores, but then (as anticipated) later recovered. Some months after that his father attempted to deliberately infect him (and the nurse also) with smallpox itself, not just once, but five times, in order to test the efficacy of the immunization. No smallpox symptoms of any sort ever developed. The porcination – dare we call it – “took.” The protection was effective. Then, two years later, Jenner again challenged his son with smallpox, this time, however, with unhappy results.

    This time there was a reaction, and a severe one, but not [probably] from the smallpox. The inoculation material turned out to be contaminated – a constant danger that later threatened to undermine Jenner’s work altogether. Young Edward contracted a fever and his arm swelled all the way to the armpit. But he quickly recovered, and a year later Jenner inoculated him with smallpox once again. And once more there was no reaction. Apparently, the Swine-pox protected against smallpox.

    Unfortunately, however, in the years following these experiments, young Edward “became a sickly child and exhibited signs of mild mental retardation,” though there is no direct evidence that these sequelae were related to the inoculation experiments. Young Edward unfortunately died at the age of 21 from tuberculosis.

  4. Susana2 years ago

    Scrolling through the comments I saw a lot of “news media” and “herd immunity”. How naive and gullible of you people to still believe in the CDC and the mainstream media. Oh, another one that popped up a lot which also made me laugh – “ebola”. That is how you know pro-vaxers are sheeple – you believe everything you see on Fox News and other mainstream outlets, and take everything that corrupt agencies such as the CDC say as the holy grail of truth. Where have you been the past few years, do you not pay attention to politics AT ALL?! The CDC has been caught red-handed lying and skewing numbers for decades. And Ebola?! Lmao please, sensationalist propaganda just like the current Measles outbreak. As a 25-year-old mother of a baby boy, and an avid watcher of politics, I must defend my age group by saying that precisely because we question authority (CDC for instance – seriously, have you never seen them stutter in front of congress?) and are the baby boomers of this generation, we are against most things that are “popular” in the mainstream news. Not to mention, we know how to use technology and Google properly to research REAL scientific journals, not a bunch of crap you find from a basic internet search.

  5. Barbara Ruhlman3 years ago

    Those of us who are in our middle 60’s and older remember these childhood illness because most of us had them. I myself had measles, German measles, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough. We who have experienced these very contagious conditions remember how ill we were and when these immunizations became available, we’re happy for the infants and children, for they now would not have to go through what we did. There is a risk in everything we do-if immunizations are not given there is a risk of contacting the disease, if the immunization is given, there is also a risk of side effects, which is very, very minute.

    What if only the communicable disease vaccinations were mandatory? The only exempt people would be ones with compromised immune systems or an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine. The vaccines for all types of Hepatitis, HPV, Tetanus, Rotovirus would be highly recommended by the physician, but not mandatory.

  6. Buffet3 years ago

    Great Scott – Has anyone commenting here bothered to read ANYTHING published in the last two centuries??
    Should we burn the witches or simply drown them?

  7. Howard3 years ago

    I am sorry to feel this way but a parent’s failure to vaccinate a child should be deemed to be child abuse. The child has a right to life and health that should not be obfuscated by some misguided sense of a parent’s right. In ancient times a father’s word was literally law in a family (e.g. “King Lear”). We should be beyond that and recognize that every individual has rights, which must be protected in a civil society.

    1. redpill13 years ago

      I am sorry to feel this way but a parent’s failure to vaccinate a child should be deemed to be child abuse.

      Have you heard of viral vaccine shedding? I will have you arrested for transmitting a contagious disease because vaccinated people are contagious. Read:

      -Sciencemag (dot) org article from April 2014 titled “Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Patient for First Time.”
      Titled, “Outbreak of Measles Among Persons With Prior Evidence of Immunity, New York City, 2011,” cid.oxfordjournals (dot) org/content/58/9/1205.long
      “This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice vaccinated individual. The clinical presentation and laboratory data of the index were typical of measles in a naïve individual. Secondary cases had robust anamnestic antibody responses. No tertiary cases occurred despite numerous contacts. This outbreak underscores the need for thorough epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of suspected measles cases regardless of vaccination status.”
      “Of 88 contacts, four secondary cases were confirmed that had either two doses of measles-containing vaccine or a past positive measles IgG antibody. All cases had laboratory confirmation of measles infection, clinical symptoms consistent with measles, and high avidity IgG antibody characteristic of a secondary immune response.”
      -PLoS study: “Difficulties in eliminating measles and controlling rubella and mumps: a cross-sectional study of a first measles and rubella vaccination and a second measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination,”
      China has one of the most vaccination compliant populations in the world. In fact, measles vaccine is mandatory. So why have they had over 700 measles outbreaks from 2009 and 2012 alone? “The reported coverage of the measles-rubella (MR) or measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is greater than 99.0% in Zhejiang province. However, the incidence of measles, mumps, and rubella remains high.”
      ncbi.nlm.nih (dot) gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930734/
      ****Did you follow that? A twice-vaccinated individual, from a NYC measles outbreak, was found to have transmitted measles to four of her contacts, two of which themselves had received two doses of MMR vaccine and had prior presumably protective measles IgG antibody results.
      This phenomenon — the MMR vaccine compliant infecting other MMR vaccine compliant cases – has been ignored by health agencies and the media.****

      -Major Measles Epidemic in Quebec Despite 99% Vaccination Coverage
      Boulianne N, De Serres G, Duval B, Joly JR, Meyer F, Déry P, Alary M, Le Hénaff D, Thériault N. Département de santé communautaire, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université Laval. [Major measles epidemic in the region of Quebec despite a 99% vaccine coverage] [Article in French]. Can J Public health. 1991 May-Jun;82(3):189-90 Incomplete vaccination coverage is not a valid explanation for the Quebec City measles outbreak.

      -From the CDC: Transmission of measles among a highly vaccinated school population–Anchorage, Alaska, 1998. ncbi.nlm.nih (dot) gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9921727&dopt=Abstract
      “This was the largest outbreak of measles in the United States
      since 1996
      -J Clin Microbiol. Sep 1995; 33(9): 2485–2488.
      PMCID: PMC228449
      Detection of measles virus RNA in urine specimens from vaccine recipients.
      P A Rota, A S Khan, E Durigon, T Yuran, Y S Villamarzo, and W J Bellini
      -Vaccine. 2002 Feb 22;20(11-12):1541-3.
      Detection of measles vaccine in the throat of a vaccinated child.
      Morfin F1, Beguin A, Lina B, Thouvenot D.
      Author information
      – Two Fully Vaccinated Doctors Get Measles (2009)
      A measles outbreak in 2009 exposed and infected two physicians, both of whom had been fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine. These physicians were suspected of having been infected by treating patients diagnosed with measles.
      jid.oxfordjournals (dot) org/content/204/suppl_1/S559.full.pdf+html
      -“An outbreak of measles occurred in a high school with a documented vaccination level of 98 per cent.” This outbreak occurred in Waltham, MA between March and April of 1984. – PubMed – National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1987
      thelancet (dot) com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2889%2991274-9/abstract

      1. Work Avoidance Log2 years ago

        The Log hopes that not all anti-vaccine partisans are as dishonest as you are.
        Randomly, The Log followed your link to the study of measles, mumps and rubella in China, from which you kinda-sorta quote:

        You write:
        “-PLoS study: “Difficulties in eliminating measles and controlling rubella and mumps: a cross-sectional study of a first measles and rubella vaccination and a second measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination”
        The Fact Is:
        This is the title of the article, not its conclusion

        You write:
        “China has one of the most vaccination compliant populations in the world.”
        The Fact Is:
        This is your conclusion. It’s not reported anywhere in the study. In fact, your conclusion is specifically rejected in the several paragraphs in the study that report that many Chinese–especially young adults–either were not vaccinated or do not remember if they were. Of the five cities that researchers intended to include in the study, three were eliminated because of historic poor compliance with vaccination requirements.

        You write:
        “So why have they had over 700 measles outbreaks from 2009 and 2012 alone?”
        The Fact Is:
        This number (700) is found nowhere in the text to which you linked.

        You write:
        “The reported coverage of the measles-rubella (MR) or measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is greater than 99.0% in Zhejiang province. However, the incidence of measles, mumps, and rubella remains high.”
        The Fact Is:
        This is the issue that the researchers went to these Chinese provinces to study. It is not the outcome of their research, as you suggest.

        If you had bothered to read the rest of the abstract to which you linked–and reported honestly what you’d read–you would have written that the researchers learned that beginning in the 1970s, China’s “mandatory” (but clearly widely ignored) vaccination program in its first few years consisted of a single shot. Then China modified the program so that kids were administered two shots–one at 8 months and the other at 18 months–and undertook a program of what the report refers to as “SIAs” (“Supplemental Immunization Activities,” a fancy way of saying that if parents won’t bring their kids to the clinic, then health care workers make house calls. The goal: get as many immunized as humanly possible). It worked. Or, as the report to which you linked puts it, plain as day:

        “A total of 78551 children were vaccinated through this effort in the two sites and the administrative vaccination coverage of measles vaccine was also over 95%. The subsequent measles cases are at an historic low from 328 in 2008 to 9 in 2011 and measles incidence decreased markedly to 1.061 per 100,000 in 2011, down from 19.11 per 100,000 in 2008. All these efforts to reach more children and teenagers with MCV have rapidly reduced measles cases in this area between 2008 and 2011, which is promising to achieve the goal (measles incidence <5 per million in 2015) suggested by WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Expert (SAGE) in 2010."

        In case you missed it again, here's the key sentence:

        "The subsequent measles cases are at an historic low."

        It's bad enough that you lecture people on the basis of discredited pseudo-science. But you also base your argument on a misstatement of actual science. Whether your misuse of this study was intentional or ignorant is immaterial.

        You are a danger to yourself and others.

        Back to work:

    2. person3 years ago

      Do all children have the right to be free of neurological damage from heavy metals? People who vaccinated their children put their child’s cognitive functioning at risk, and that could be considered abusive. And by the way, if your unvaccinated child gets the measles, they have a good chance of recovering from it with lifelong immunity, however, if your child gets autism (which CAN be caused by the shots per the CDC!) there is no going back.

  8. rhkennerly3 years ago

    Well said, all. The Unvaccinated by choice should bear the costs of their decision. News media should publicize the cases of whooping cough that often take months to clear to a “non-disruptive” level before a kid is let back into school or daycare. (Even if the child is no longer contagious other parents & teachers will not want that child in their class.)

    What’s a low income couple or single parent to do but quit work to stay home with the kid? Or push a sick child off onto a relative? Even if the child survives, whooping cough can be financially ruinous for the marginal earners.

  9. Joko3 years ago

    Not vaccinating your children can lead to negative effects for them and their fellow classmates. Liberty is the right to do as you wish as long as it does not harm others. And endangering people based on unscientific/unsupported beliefs is not something we should view as a choice.

  10. Anne Moore3 years ago

    Big surprise. Those young people were mostly all vaccinated, didn’t get those “childhood” diseases and do not understand Herd Immunity. And many did not get enough science or good science in school.

  11. Ruby3 years ago

    We are all aware of the devastation that Ebola has caused in Africa over the past year, but those of us not old enough to remember may not realize the similarities this scourge has with epidemic infections that visited past generations- such as polio and measles. At last a vaccine has been developed and is under trial to combat Ebola. Would opponents of vaccination suggest that those at risk of Ebola infection should not be vaccinated because of the alleged risk that it may cause a small proportion of recipients some unspecified complication? Of course not! As a society we have such short memories.

    1. Jewlio Fuentes2 years ago

      Vaccines have been proven by many different scientists and organizations from numerous different countries that vaccines do not cause autism. It was started by a talk show hostess who later retracted her statement. Why are some Americans so naive as to believe anything that a talk show person says and ignore scientists? This version of american stupidity baffles me.

  12. SGM Bob3 years ago

    I suppose it’s OK for parents decline having their kids vaccinated — but their children should then NOT be permitted to attend public schools unless those kids are up to date on immunizations.
    Freedom of choice sometimes comes with a price. Kids who are not immunized should be HOME SCHOOLED by their “overly wise” and foolish parents.
    The U.S. was measles-free until these young adults decided that the medical community didn’t know beans from bacon. Now, see what that got us, you bunch of liberal ignoramuses!!!

  13. ary Tricozzi3 years ago

    About 60 years ago, my son was vaccinated at school. He developed a lesion near his left eye; my physician immediate arranged for us to see an eye specialist. To make a long story short – he informed us that a certain number of the children having this vaccination would die. Naturally, we were appalled.

    It was nearly a month before we were sure that my son would not lose his sight. Obviously, that doctor saved his sight.

    Parents should apprised of dangers associated with this procedure.

    Mary M. Tricozzi

    1. Robbie Robertson3 years ago

      You are talking about a vaccine that was being used 60 years ago. In the intervening years, scientists have been able to purify these agents to the point where, short of an allergic reaction, (which you can also get from taking a Tylenol tablet), there is virtually no danger associated with the MMR inoculations. For those who cite the thoroughly discredited study done in England 18 years ago which started all this vaccination scare, read up on it and I am sure you will be put at ease.

    2. Jacques Roman3 years ago

      Parents should also be apprised of the dangers associated with walking, playing, eating, drinking, going to church (those pedophile clergymen!) and, generally, living.

      They should also be apprised of the dangers associated with this kind of false reasoning. JR

    3. you’re an idiot2 years ago

      60 YEARS AGO!!
      This is 2015, everything has changed.
      Vaccines are much more safe today than
      60 YEARS AGO

      1. John2 years ago

        Please, show a little civility !

      2. Chris2 years ago

        Calling this person an ‘idiot’ just because they have a different point of view reflects badly on you, and you alone.

  14. Rob3 years ago

    Public education and public health used to be matters of national security. Compulsory schooling was introduced in Prussia because educated soldiers were more effective soldiers. Same with health. LOTS of draft age American men were rejected in WWI and II for health reasons (more rural than urban). If we continue to fight wars with 1% of our population, perhaps we don’t need to care how well educated and healthy our people are. We will be “free” to let the rest of the world surpass us economically because they are healthier and better educated.

  15. William Bergmann3 years ago

    I’m surprised that the question “Do you believe vaccines to be safe and effective?” was not a question.

    1. Monica Anderson3 years ago

      Hi William,

      A more recent Pew Research Center survey asked this question: “Thinking about vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella, do you think these vaccines are safe for healthy children or are they not safe for healthy children?” 83% said vaccines were safe for healthy children.

      You can view the report here: people-press.org/2015/02/09/83-p…

  16. l3lessed3 years ago

    Sorry, but no school isn’t an acceptable option either, because these ticking time bombs will still be frequenting all our other public spaces and spreading serious, life threatening illnesses, all under the guise of personal freedom and/or unfounded quackery and pseudo-science.

    Sorry, but when your choices endanger the “general welfare” of the people of this country, we get to tell you to change your actions or face consequences; and yes, that is a reference the the constitution on purpose.

    So, let me use an analogy to show how insane this is. If I have a religion or personal belief that involves testing my faith through strapping a bomb on me that may or may not go off in my life time, should I be able to wonder around public spaces? Hey it’s my belief system, and I believe, because of my faith, it won’t go off. It’s my body, and it’s my choice, so why shouldn’t I be able to do this? This is exactly what the anti-vaxxers are pretty much arguing; the only difference is the bomb is actually far worse, as it will keep spreading and causing damage once it “goes off.”

  17. John K.3 years ago

    A useful survey — however, it leaves out important questions we need answered about the demographics of the anti-vaccination. The question of whether vaccines should be required by the state is different from the question of whether you believe vaccines cause autism. One can believe in vaccines and give them to your child, for example, but not want it required; thus we don’t learn who in the population really believes that vaccinations are harmful.

    Additionally, there needs to be polling that differentiates between those who are full-on believers in the (discredited) autism thesis, and the believers in the “overload” thesis, i.e., that children shouldn’t have so many vaccines at once, and thus the parent will create their own vaccination schedule — even if it goes against evidence-based science. There’s a whole lot of that, anecdotally, but who has the data?

  18. Leo G Simonetta3 years ago

    I would think the Don’t Knows and No Answers would be interesting here. Might be a more acceptable way of saying No.

  19. Nikki3 years ago

    This is ridiculous. Of course, vaccination is a parent’s choice, just as keeping unvaccinated children out of the public school system is the state’s choice, as Mississippi and West Virginia do.

    And more states need to make the same choice to keep children who, due to medical issues, cannot be vaccinated from being at risk of contracting communicable diseases that can kill them.

    1. Jenn3 years ago

      Viruses such as measles are highly contagious. It would be impossible for any states or anyone for that matter to guarantee that people (infants, pregnant women and immunocompromised people) who are unable to be vaccinated, are kept away from these contagious viruses. Unless we can isolate them from everyone else and the entire world. But that would be unethical.

      The whole point of herd immunity, giving vaccines to those who can take it, is that this is the best way to protect those who cannot be vaccinated. By vaccinated everyone else, no one can contract the virus and spread it to those who cannot be vaccinated.

      If this is the best way to protect those who are the most vulnerable to these preventable diseases, why shouldn’t parents take responsibility and vaccine their children? Why should this be a choice if it means it helps to protect everyone, their children included?

  20. Rich Meyer3 years ago

    simple solution: to attend school, children MUST be vaccinated. no shot, no school.