A large majority of Americans surveyed in a poll released Monday said childhood vaccinations should be mandatory, but one-quarter of respondents said parents should get to make that decision themselves.
The survey, conducted jointly by NBC and The Wall Street Journal, found that 72% of adults believe parents should be required to vaccinate their children with common inoculations, including the MMR vaccine, which prevents measles and other diseases. However, 25% said parents should be allowed to choose if and when to vaccinate their kids, and 3% said they were unsure.
The results come amid the largest nationwide measles outbreak in 25 years. Most people who have contracted the disease were not vaccinated, including hundreds of people who live in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and Michigan. Quarantines have been introduced at some schools over fears that the disease could spread, and moviegoers at a screening of “Avengers: Endgame” had to worry about being infected after a woman in the audience was reported to have measles.
Earlier polling indicates that most Americans believe the benefits of the MMR vaccine are high and the risks are low. Pew Research notes that 82 percent of Americans favored school-based vaccine requirements in 2016 and found that a majority of Americans had high faith in medical professionals to give them accurate advice when it came to vaccination.
There is no scientific evidence to back up claims that vaccines cause autism. In fact, a large study released in March found zero association between the measles vaccine and autism. That research followed more than 650,000 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010 and found no proportional increase in instances of autism among vaccinated and unvaccinated kids.
Pew also notes that all 50 states and the District of Columbia require students to be vaccinated to attend school, but almost every state allows parents to forgo vaccines for religious or medical reasons.
Some lawmakers have considered closing those loopholes amid the latest outbreak. Oregon legislators in the state’s House voted earlier this month to advance a bill eliminating religious and philosophical exemptions.
The NBC/WSJ poll surveyed 900 adults aged 18 and older and asked if respondents believed parents should be “required to vaccinate their children for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella” or if they “should be able to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children.” The poll had a margin of error of 3.27%.