An 83% majority of the public says vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) are safe for healthy children, while about one-in-ten (9%) think such vaccines are not safe. An additional 7% volunteer that they don’t know.
Majorities across virtually every demographic and partisan group view the vaccines as safe. However, there are some differences in attitudes, with less educated people and younger adults more likely to say they are not safe.
The new national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 5-8 among 1,003 adults, finds Republicans (89%) and Democrats (87%) generally agree that such vaccines are safe for children who are healthy.
Roughly nine-in-ten college graduates (92%) see vaccines for MMR as safe for healthy children. This view is somewhat less widespread among those with some college experience (85%) or a high school degree or less (77%).
Three-quarters or more in every age group say vaccines for MMR are safe. However, among adults 50 and older, 90% express this view, compared with 77% of adults 18-29 and 81% of those 30-49.
A separate Pew Research Center survey of opinion among the public and scientists about science and society found widespread support for requiring childhood vaccinations: 68% of the public said children should be required to be vaccinated, while 30% in that survey said parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children. Young adults were more likely to say vaccinations should be a parental choice, while there was no significant difference in attitudes based on education.