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More Parents See Benefits of Vaccines, Poll Finds

Reports on outbreaks of measles, whooping cough in past year may have shifted opinions, pediatrician says

MONDAY, July 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- American parents' views about childhood vaccines became more favorable over the past year, a new poll finds.

During that time, a number of measles and whooping cough outbreaks made headlines across the country, the researchers noted.

"Over the last year, there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country," Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll, said in a news release. Davis is also a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

"Outbreaks of disease can safely be prevented through childhood vaccination, but there are deeply held convictions about parents' autonomy and remaining concerns among some parents about vaccine safety," he said.

The researchers conducted their survey in May. They found that one-third more parents recognize the benefits of vaccines, compared to a year earlier. They also found that one-quarter more parents believed vaccines were safe than did last year. Additionally, one-third more parents than last year supported requirements that children be vaccinated before entering day care and school.

"For a quarter to a third of parents to say that their views on the safety and benefits of vaccines have shifted in just a year's time is quite remarkable," added Davis.

About 40 percent of the parents in the poll said they believe the risk of measles for children is higher than it was a year ago. Around 45 percent of parents said the risk is the same. But, 15 percent said the risk of measles is lower than it was a year ago, the researchers said.

Davis said the perception among parents that vaccines are safer and offer more benefits is consistent with their stronger support of school entry requirements for immunizations.

Media coverage may be swaying parents' opinions, but the impact of those changes won't truly be seen unless more parents choose to vaccinate their children, Davis concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about childhood vaccines.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, July 6, 2015
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