(HealthDay News) — In the wake of the measles outbreak that has generated headlines for months, more Americans now say they have positive feelings toward childhood vaccinations, according to a new HealthDay/Harris Poll.
The poll, conducted online between Feb. 25 to 27, included a nationally representative sample of 2,032 U.S. adults. Of those surveyed, 87 percent said they thought that the vaccines routinely given to young children are safe. That’s up from 77 percent from a similar poll last July.
Among the new poll’s other findings: 82 percent of respondents say childhood vaccinations should be mandatory for all children, up from 77 percent in the July poll; 79 percent say there’s at least a moderate level of risk that an unvaccinated child could contract a disease that vaccinations are designed to protect against (an increase of 5 percentage points since the July poll); and 69 percent say a child contracting a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles would present at least a moderate danger to other children, up from 64 percent in July.
However, the poll also found that many younger adults, and parents of young children, continue to believe the debunked claim that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. In the new poll, the “Millennial” generation (those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) was most likely to believe the MMR-autism claim (22 percent). That compares to 18 percent of “Gen Xers” (those born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s), 12 percent of baby boomers, and 8 percent of Americans older than 70. The poll found that people with the highest-income households — earning $100,000 or more a year — were less likely to believe in the MMR-autism link — only 12 percent did, versus 22 percent of people from households earning less than $50,000.