In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms have helped spread this dangerous myth. Measles can kill.
Black and Hispanic Americans hold less positive views about the MMR vaccine than white Americans. While 92% of white adults say the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, 74% of black and 78% of Hispanic adults say the same. In addition, 46% of black and 45% of Hispanic adults rate the risk of side effects from the vaccine as at least medium, compared with 23% of white Americans.
Those with higher levels of education and higher family incomes are particularly likely to consider the preventive health benefits of the MMR vaccine as very high and, on the flip side, to see the risk of side effects as low.
As the number of measles cases has risen in the U.S., lawmakers in some states have introduced legislation to limit or eliminate exemptions to school-based vaccination requirements based on personal or religious beliefs. However, many of these proposals have been met with strong opposition from a vocal minority who think vaccination should be a parent’s choice.
The Center’s new survey finds that a strong majority of the American public (82%) supports required MMR vaccination for public school attendance, while 16% feel parents should be able to decide whether to vaccinate their children even if that might create health risks for others. Views on this issue are about the same as in 2016.
Majorities across all major religious groups support a school-based requirement for the MMR vaccine. However, white evangelical Protestants (20%) are slightly more likely than white mainline Protestants (11%) to think that parents should be able to decide whether to have their children vaccinated.
Compared with white Americans, smaller majorities of black and Hispanic adults support a school requirement for the MMR vaccine. Roughly a quarter of black (26%) and 19% of Hispanic Americans say vaccination should be a parent’s decision, compared with 13% of whites who say the same thing.