Most parents believe that vaccines are a good way to protect infants and children from disease, but at least one in four think some vaccines cause autism, and nearly one in eight have refused at least one recommended vaccine, a new nationwide survey reveals. Published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Pediatrics, the survey of 1,552 parents found that the vast majority of parents (88 percent) follow their doctor's recommendations regarding childhood vaccines, but that more than half (54 percent) are concerned about serious sides effects associated with routine shots. Despite the lack of evidence, as many as 25 percent of parents—one in four— continue to believe that some vaccines trigger autism in otherwise healthy children and up to 12 percent of parents have refused at least one recommended vaccine. (Newer vaccines for chicken pox, HPV, and meningitis are more likely to be refused than MMR shots and other older vaccines.) Overall, however, nine out of 10 parents agree that vaccines are effective in protecting children's health.
What's your vaccine attitude? According to researchers, moms are more likely than dads to believe that some vaccines cause autism and are also more likely to refuse certain vaccines due to safety concerns. Race also seems to play a factor. While Hispanic parents are less likely to refuse a vaccine, they are more likely than white or black parents to believe that some vaccines cause autism.
Researchers expected to find parental caution over vaccines, but “we were sobered to find that one in four parents erroneously believe that vaccines can cause autism in an otherwise healthy child,” says Dr. Gary L. Freed, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and lead researcher, in an interview with the New York Times. “Fortunately, they are still overwhelmingly vaccinating their children,” he adds.