Vaccines and Global Health: The Week in Review has expanded its coverage of new reports, books, research and analysis published independent of the journal channel covered in Journal Watch below. Our interests span immunization and vaccines, as well as global public health, health governance, and associated themes. If you would like to suggest content to be included in this service, please contact David Curry at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey/Analysis: Vast Majority of Americans Say Benefits of Childhood Vaccines Outweigh Risks
Parents of young children support measles, mumps and rubella vaccine requirements but rate the risks higher, the benefits lower. There are not major partisan divisions on these issues, though.
Pew Research Center :: February 2, 2017 :: 104 pages
Excerpt from Overview
Most Americans support requiring the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for public school children in order to protect public health. They see high preventive health benefits of such vaccines, and low risk of side effects, and they consider the benefits of the vaccine to outweigh the risks.
Yet, public concerns about childhood vaccines linger in the public discourse, often linked to a now discredited and retracted research study published nearly two decades ago that raised questions about a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. Despite assurances of vaccine safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and a host of other scientific bodies that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not cause autism, a number of prominent figures have expressed concerns about the safety of childhood vaccines. President Donald Trump raised questions about the safety of childhood vaccines on the campaign trail and during the transition period met with Robert Kennedy Jr. reportedly about the possibility of leading a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. Kennedy edited a book that argues that a preservative used in some vaccines causes neurological disorders, including autism.1
A new Pew Research Center survey conducted prior to the election finds the “vaccine hesitant” views expressed by Trump and other public figures to be at odds with most Americans’ views. An overwhelming majority of Americans (82%) support requiring all healthy schoolchildren to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. Some 73% of Americans see high preventive health benefits from use of the MMR vaccine, and 66% believe there is a low risk of side effects from the vaccine. Overall, 88% believe that the benefits of these inoculations outweigh the risks.
But there are several groups with comparatively more concern about the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Foremost among them are parents of children ages 0 to 4 who have recently faced or will soon face a decision about whether to follow the recommended immunization schedule for measles, mumps and rubella starting when their children are between 12 and 15 months old. Six-in-ten (60%) parents with children ages 0 to 4 see the preventive health benefits of the MMR vaccine as high, compared with 75% of parents with school-age children (ages 5-17) and 76% of people with no children under age 18. About half (52%) of parents with children ages 0 to 4 say the risk of side effects from the MMR vaccine is low, 43% of this group says the risk is medium or high. By comparison, 70% of those with no minor age children say the risk of side effects is low, and 29% say the risk is medium or worse.
In addition, blacks consider the risk of side effects from the MMR vaccine to be higher and the benefits lower than other Americans. There are also generational differences with adults under age 30 less convinced that the MMR vaccine brings high preventive health benefits. People’s use of alternative and conventional medicine is linked with their beliefs about the MMR vaccine; those who report never taking over-the-counter cold or flu medication and those who have used alternative medicine instead of conventional medicine see higher risk from the MMR vaccine.
People with low knowledge about science are also less likely to see high preventive health benefits from vaccines (55% compared with 91% of those high in science knowledge).2 In addition, they are more likely to consider the risk of side effects to be at least “medium” or worse (47% vs. 19% of those with high science knowledge.) Similarly, the 68% majority of Americans who do not correctly recognize the definition for “herd immunity” are less likely to rate the benefits of the MMR vaccine as high and comparatively more likely to see the risk of side effects as at least medium. (Herd immunity refers to the health benefits that occur when most people in a population have been vaccinated.) This group is equally likely as those who correctly recognize the term “herd immunity” to support a requirement for all children in public schools to be vaccinated.
Nonetheless, public views of medical scientists and their research related to childhood vaccines are broadly positive regardless of parent status, race, ethnicity and experience using alternative medicine. Fully 73% of U.S. adults believe that medical scientists should have a major role in policy decisions related to childhood vaccines. In addition, a 55% majority say they trust information from medical scientists a lot to give a full and accurate picture of the health effects of vaccines. At the same time people are less trusting of other groups about this issue. For example, just 13% trust information from pharmaceutical industry leaders about the health effects of the MMR vaccine a lot. People with high science knowledge are especially positive in their views of medical scientists and research on childhood vaccines. Younger adults, ages 18 to 29, are a bit more skeptical than older age groups about medical scientists and their work on childhood vaccines.
The new Pew Research Center survey finds Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) hold roughly the same views as Democrats (including leaning Democrats) about the benefits and risks of the MMR vaccine, consistent with a 2015 Pew Research Center survey on this topic. Republicans and Democrats (including those who lean to either party) are about equally likely to support a school-based vaccine requirement. However, political conservatives are slightly more likely than either moderates or liberals to say that parents should be able to decide not to have their children vaccinated, though majorities of all ideology groups support requiring the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for all children in public schools because of the potential health risk to others.
These are some of the findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,549 adults, ages 18 or older from May 10-June 6, 2016. This is the third in a series of reports on public views about science-related issues and public trust in scientists working on these issues. The margin of sampling error based on the full sample is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points…
[U.S.] National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) Meeting
February 7-8, 2017
The meeting AGENDA will include updates on:
:: Vaccines and the 21st Century Cures Act
:: Recent mumps outbreaks in the United States
:: Zika virus and vaccine development
:: Vaccine safety science and personalized vaccinology
:: NVAC’s Mid-course Review Working Group will also present its findings and draft recommendations for the Mid-Course Review of the National Vaccine Plan.
The February meeting is open to the public and attendees can join the meeting in-person or by livestream.
Find out more and register for the meeting
REMOTE ACCESS: U.S.) 1-888-603-7096 , (International) 1-630-395-0214
Participant Passcode: 2108114 Webcast Link