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.
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.
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.