Survey finds increased parental vaccine acceptance in aftermath of California measles outbreak

August 26, 2015

A survey conducted by Medscape found that fewer parents may be refusing to vaccinate their children in the aftermath of the California measles outbreak, especially in western states, which have had some of the highest refusal rates in America.

According to the Medscape Vaccine Acceptance Report, an online survey of 1,577 pediatricians, family physicians, public health physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants that was conducted last month, 42 percent of clinicians said they believed more parents are accepting vaccines and 38 percent said parents are more accepting of the measles vaccination in particular.

Health care professionals in the western region of the country, including California, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, reported even higher rates of acceptance for the measles vaccines (46 percent vs. 36 percent for the rest of the country) and for all vaccines (51 percent vs. 41 percent).

The survey did find, however, that unfounded worries about vaccines still remain in parents’ minds. Sixty-four percent of clinicians said parents fear complications and 61 percent said parents fear a connection to autism. Half said parents worried about added ingredients such as thimerosal and 45 percent said parents expressed concerns about immunization overwhelming a child's immune system.

A majority of clinicians surveyed (69 percent) said they provide evidence-based information to address specific parental concerns. Clinicians also said that they create a customized approach and share potential morbidity and mortality statistics on vaccine-preventable diseases.

Eight percent of providers surveyed said that they refuse to accept families in their practice who will not adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule

Although all states require schoolchildren to be vaccinated, 18 states let parents opt out based on religious or philosophical beliefs, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. About 23 percent of those surveyed reported that concern about being refused admission into some schools, camps and day care centers played a significant role in parents' change of heart. Twenty-one percent of respondents attributed the more open attitude to parents further educating themselves about the issue.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in June 2015 that will eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions in the state beginning in 2016.


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