More than a third of American parents say vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella should be an individual choice and not a requirement to attend public school, even if it could create health risks, according to survey data released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
This is a significant increase from the time before the pandemic. A similar poll by the Pew Research Center found that 23% of parents opposed vaccine requirements in schools in 2019, but that has now risen to 35% in the KFF poll.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require that children attending public school be vaccinated against certain diseases, including measles and rubella. Exceptions are allowed only in certain circumstances.
In central Ohio, a measles outbreak that began last month continues to grow, spreading entirely among children who were fully vaccinated.
As of Thursday, 77 children had a confirmed case of measles, and more than a third of them were hospitalized, according to data from Columbus Public Health. The vast majority of children were completely unvaccinated against measles and four had received half the recommended two-dose series.
“What’s really driving this is, unfortunately, the lack of vaccination, which is just heartbreaking,” Dr. Nora Colburn, an adult infectious disease physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
About 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become infected, according to Columbus Public Health, and about 1 in 5 people in the US who get measles will be hospitalized.
During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, while most people stayed at home and some health care facilities were closed, many children missed their routine immunizations, including the MMR vaccine — and they still may not have received them. all recommended vaccines. This is true worldwide as well as in the US.
“Measles is such a contagious disease that when you see those drops [in vaccine coverage]we are really concerned about the potential for large outbreaks,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases and professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Hospital of Children in Colorado. . “You really have to maintain high vaccination coverage to prevent the spread of measles.”
While the KFF survey shows skepticism about Covid-19 vaccines has grown, confidence in the value of childhood vaccines has changed little: About 85% of adults in the new survey say the benefits of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are more bigger than those. risk, falling only 3 percentage points from 2019.
But support for requiring these vaccines has declined, particularly among Republicans. The share of Republicans who say parents should be able to opt out of these childhood vaccines has doubled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, from 20% in 2019 to 44% now. Among Democrats, however, support for vaccine requirements in public schools has consistently hovered above 85%.
The latest survey from KFF’s ongoing COVID-19 Vaccine Monitoring project was conducted from November 29 to December 8.