Almost half of Americans still think vaccines can cause autism

January 21, 2011

A new Harris Interactive-Health Day poll found that 52% of Americans believe that vaccines do not cause autism.

 

A new Harris Interactive-Health Day poll found that 52% of Americans believe that vaccines do not cause autism.

However, 18% of Americans are certain that vaccines, such as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, can cause the disorder, and another 30% are still not certain.

The poll was conducted after articles in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that Andrew Wakefield’s original research showing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and published in the Lancet in 1998 was a fraud.

The poll was conducted online within the United States from January 11-13 and included 2,026 adults over the age of 18. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Parents who still aren’t certain about the link between vaccines and autism were less likely to say that their children were fully vaccinated (86%). Ninety-eight percent of parents who do not believe vaccines cause autism say that their children are fully vaccinated, according to the poll.

In the new poll, 69% of respondents said they had heard about the theory that some vaccinations can cause autism, but only 47% knew that the Lancet had retracted the Wakefield study and that it has been shown to be fraudulent.

Among those who had been following the news about Wakefield, 35% believed the vaccine-autism theory compared with 65% who had not kept up-to-date. Overall, 69% of adults polled agreed that schools should require vaccinations, including 52% of those who believe that autism might be connected to vaccinations.

Health Day News. Nearly half of Americans still suspect vaccine-autism link. January 20, 2011. http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=649031. Accessed January 20, 2011.