Results of the online randomized survey of 1,000 Canadian parents of children under five indicate that vaccine hesitancy is alive and well in Canada, something that has been a growing concern for public health officials in recent years as major outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles become more common.
The survey was led by Josh Greenberg, director of Carleton University’s school of journalism and communications. It is one component of a larger project by the Canadian Immunization Research Network aimed at better understanding how parents make decisions about vaccinating their children.
[Ninety-one] per cent of parents surveyed agreed with the statement: “Generally speaking, vaccines are safe and effective for preventing serious childhood illnesses like measles.”
But then 28 per cent of parents either agreed or weren’t sure when asked to rank the statement: “Vaccines can cause autism and other mental disorders.”
In addition, 45 per cent of parents agreed or strongly agreed that parent should be able to choose whether to have their children vaccinated (compared with 49 per cent who disagreed or strongly disagreed). And 64 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that schools should refuse unvaccinated children, except for medical exemptions, while 30 per cent disagreed.
A significant percentage of parents surveyed (more than 32 per cent) also agreed with the statement that the pharmaceutical industry was behind the government’s push for mandatory vaccinations.