December 28, 2022

In The News: More Than a Third of Parents Oppose Vaccine Requirements in Schools, KFF Survey Finds

According to published survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, CNN shares more than a third of parents in the United States (35%) say vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella should be an individual choice and not a school requirement, regardless of the health risks. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the Pew Research Center found 23% of parents opposed the requirement.

All 50 states and Washington, D.C., require vaccinations for public school attendance, though some exemptions are permitted. The number of those seeking exemptions is rising and are combined with children who fell behind on their routine immunization schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people at home and closing or limiting health care facilities. Regardless of the reason children have not been (fully) vaccinated, measles has begun spreading in central Ohio and could be a harbinger of outbreaks to come.

The drop off in support for vaccines is particularly focused on those who politically identify as Republican. That group had their percentage of respondents who said parents should be able to opt out child vaccines grow from 20% in 2019 to 44% in 2022. Support among those who politically identify as Democrats remained consistent at around 85%. The survey found adult belief in the benefits outweighing risks in vaccines only dropped three percentage points from 2019.

Speaking on the measles aspect of vaccination support in the story, PIDS member Sean O’Leary said, “Measles is such a contagious disease that when you see those dips [in vaccine coverage], we really worry about the potential for large outbreaks. You need to really maintain a high vaccination coverage to keep measles from spreading.”

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