Most Americans agree that vaccines are a really good thing for public health, but a new poll shows that people aged between 18 and 29 are most likely to say vaccines should be a parental choice instead of a requirement.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 68% of American adults across all age groups believe vaccines should be mandatory and 30% say it should be up to parents to decide.
But young adults are the most likely to agree with the latter statement, with about 41% of people age 18 to 29 saying parents should be the ones to decide whether or not to vaccinate their child. Among adults age 65 and older, only 20% feel this way.
Pew says one reason older adults are far likelier to be in support of mandatory vaccinations is that they remember what it was like when some of these infectious diseases, like the measles, were prevalent. Measles was considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, thanks to high rates of immunizations.
Health officials say the recent outbreak of measles in the U.S.—which has infected 102 people—is spreading due to parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids.
While the public may be slightly more split on the issue—though the large majority support vaccines—physicians are not so split. A separate poll released on Monday by the physician social network community SERMO showed 92% of physicians say the current measles outbreak is directly attributable to parents not vaccinating their kids, and 72% believe unvaccinated kids should not be allowed in public schools.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 102 cases in the month of January. To put that into perspective, that's about the number of cases the U.S. experiences in a typical year. In 2014, the U.S. had its highest number of reported cases of measles at 600.