Nearly 3 in 10 Parents Now Oppose Routine Childhood Vaccine Mandates
Now, 28% of adults say parents should have the option to not vaccinate their school-age children for things like measles, mumps, and rubella.
The debate over COVID-19 vaccination mandates that became so politically charged and fueled by misinformation during the pandemic has impacted public attitudes towards vaccines that have long been required for U.S. school children. According to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a lot more adults, especially those with children who are minors, are now against mandatory childhood inoculations for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).
The survey found that 71% of adults now say that healthy children should be required to get vaccinated for rubella in order to attend public schools. That’s 11 percentage points less compared to the 82% who said the same in an October 2019 Pew Research Center poll.
Now, 28% of adults say parents should have the option to decide not to vaccinate their school-age children, even if not being vaccinated poses health risks for others, up from 16% in 2019. For parents of children under the age of 18, 35% oppose requiring childhood inoculations, up from 23% in 2019.
Anti-vaccine sentiment has led to outbreaks of measles, which was once nearly eradicated in the U.S.
Even before the pandemic, various areas in the country experienced outbreaks of the disease, including Washington State, where an estimated 22% of students were not vaccinated for measles in January 2019. The outbreak prompted Clark County to declare a public health emergency.
In April 2019, New York City also declared a public health emergency over a measles outbreak, ordering mandatory vaccinations for some who may have been exposed to the virus.
Measles is highly contagious and can cause brain damage, deafness, and even death, reports Reuters.
Despite the politicization and increased distrust of the FDA and CDC, the KFF survey found 85% of adults say the benefits of childhood vaccines for measles, mumps, and MMR outweigh the risks. In 2019, that rate was 88%. Medical experts say that vaccines are generally safe.
More than four in ten (44%) of survey respondents who identified as Republican are now opposed to routine childhood school vaccine mandates compared to 20% who said they were opposed to the mandates before the pandemic. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) Democrats are in favor of school vaccine mandates.
Currently, every state in the union and the District of Columbia require children to be vaccinated against certain diseases, such as measles and MMR, before they can attend public school, although some exceptions are allowed, reports KFF.
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