A recent Harris poll reveal that more than two in five American adults (45 percent) say something has caused them to doubt vaccine safety.
The spread of negative attitudes towards vaccines is a phenomenon deeply rooted in human psychology and amplified by social media, according to perinatal psychiatrist Rachel Shmuts, DO.
“From an evolutionary perspective, humans are primed to pay attention to threats or negative information,” she says. “So it makes sense that people hold onto fears that vaccines are harmful, especially when they believe their children are in danger.”
She believes it is possible that, since vaccines have been so effective in eradicating disease, people may have more fear of possible vaccine side effects than the actual diseases vaccines prevent.
“For some, it really might be that vaccines are viewed as the more salient threat,” says Dr. Shmuts.
Although 55% of Americans don’t doubt vaccine safety, 45% noted at least one source that caused doubts about the safety of vaccination. The top three doubt-causing sources were online articles (16%), past secrets/wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry (16%) and information from medical experts (12%).
Read more at the American Osteopathic Association
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