Exploring The Impact Of The US Measles Outbreak On Parental Awareness Of And Support For Vaccination
Author: Michael A. Cacciatore, Glen Nowak, Nathaniel J. Evans
Despite consensus among health officials that childhood immunizations are a safe and effective means of protecting people from disease, some parents remain hesitant about vaccinating their children. This hesitancy has been linked to a lack of confidence in recommended vaccinations as well as a desire to delay or further space out scheduled vaccinations but also outright refusal of vaccines. Using two national surveys of parents of children ages five and younger, collected immediately prior to and in the weeks following the 2014–15 US measles outbreak, this study examined the awareness of this vaccine-preventable disease outbreak among parents and whether awareness of the outbreak affected their beliefs about childhood vaccination, confidence, and intentions. The study found that while most parents were aware of the outbreak, many were not, and the level of familiarity mattered, particularly on measures of confidence in vaccines and support for mandates requiring childhood vaccination. Increases in vaccine-related concerns were found as well, indicating that disease outbreaks foster not just awareness of vaccines and their potential to prevent disease but a range of parental responses.