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June 24, 2019

New poll finds 45 percent of Americans still doubt the safety of vaccines

A large percentage of Americans still doubt the safety if vaccines, according to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association.

The survey revealed that while 55% of Americans do not doubt vaccine safety, 45% of Americans have been influenced by one of several factors to question their effectiveness. Despite these concerns, 82% of respondents in the poll said they were in favor of the use vaccines. 

The survey asked more than 2,000 adults to respond to two questions about their views on vaccines, including a question on their views on vaccine safety, and what may have caused them to doubt vaccines, if at all. 

Asked to best describe their views on vaccine safety, only 2% said they felt vaccines were unsafe and ineffective, 6% said they felt the risks of side effects outweighed the potential benefits of the vaccines, and 9% said they were unsure if vaccines were safe and effective. Fifty-one percent said they believed vaccines are safe and effective.

The 8% of people in the poll who do not vaccinate can still cause a potential health risk, according family physician Dr. Paul Ehrmann. He said that diseases, like measles, need 95% of the population to be vaccinated in order to effectively protect those who cannot be vaccinated due to certain medical conditions, such as an impaired immune system.

The top factors leading to respondents believing vaccines are potentially harmful include online articles (16%), past secrets or wrongdoings by the pharmaceutical industry (16%), and information from medical experts (12%). Other factors include social media content, personal experience, information from family members, and religious beliefs.  

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