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Young American adults, vaccines and autism: Poll results

With the current measles outbreak in the United States at 107 cases already in 2015, federal, state and local health departments have expressed concerns. Even the White House had commented of this health situation.

Image/CDC

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

One explanation may be the viewpoint on vaccinations held by many younger adult Americans, according to data from a recent YouGov poll.

YouGov’s latest research shows that most Americans (57%) support requiring all children to get vaccinated against childhood diseases, but 32% do think that it should be up to parents to decide whether or not their child should be vaccinated. Americans under the age of 30 (43%) are far more likely than other age groups to say that the decision should be left to parents. Only 26% of 45-64 year olds and 21% of over-65s think that vaccination should be at parental discretion.

Even more disturbing, particularly in light of the debunked Andrew Wakefield “study” from 1998, is that a full 1/5 of adults under 30 polled believe that vaccines can cause autism. This compares to 11% of adults aged 45-64 and only 3% of those over 65 years.

Measles is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It is so contagious that if one infected person has it, 9 out of 10 exposed people who are not immune will also become infected. It spreads through the air when infected persons cough and sneeze. It can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person was coughing or sneezing, and on surfaces.

Related: Vaccines: An interview with Dr. Paul Offit  

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93% effective at preventing measles; two doses are approximately 97% effective. Almost everyone who does not respond to the measles component of the first dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 months or older will respond to the second dose. Therefore, the second dose of MMR is administered to address primary vaccine failure.