Though fraudulent claims that vaccines can cause autism have been proven false by multiple studies, some parents remain skeptical of the benefits of vaccines. The precise figure varies from state to state, but one 2011 study found that as many as 40% of parents either delayed or refused vaccines for their children.
Some parents who oppose vaccinations may mistrust their doctors or the vaccine schedule, while others may remain convinced that strong evidence points to the dangers of vaccines. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that these parents may be more likely to vaccinate their children when they are educated about the dangers of failing to do so.
Parents Aware of Impact of Illness More Likely to Vaccinate
Zachary Horne, a University of Illinois graduate student, and his colleagues asked 315 participants about their opinions on controversial subjects, such as vaccinations. They then divided participants into three different groups. One group reviewed arguments in favor of vaccinations, while a second group reviewed pro-vaccination material as well as photographs showing the effects measles, mumps, and rubella can have on children. The final group received information on an unrelated topic.
Parents who refuse vaccinations for reasons not religious in nature typically do so out of concern for the safety and well-being of their children. According to the authors of the study, a greater awareness of the effects of preventable diseases may be more successful at activating parental concern than a direct challenge to the anti-vaccine position. This increased awareness may lead many of those opposed to vaccines to change their positions.
Risks of Not Vaccinating
The incidence of once-rare childhood diseases is steadily rising, and it is believed that this is largely due to the increasing number of children who have not been vaccinated. In 2014, there were three times as many cases of measles as there were in 2013. The CDC also received 28,660 reports of whooping cough in 2014—an 18% increase from the number of cases reported in 2013. A child who has not been vaccinated can easily contract one of these potentially life-threatening illnesses.
- Horne, Z., Powell, D., Hummel, J. E., & Holyoak, K. J. (2015). Countering anti-vaccination attitudes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.1504019112
- Pertussis outbreak trends. (2015, March 11). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks/trends.html
- Smith, P., Humiston, S., Marcuse, E., Zhao, Z., Dorell, C., Howes, C., & Hibbs, B. (2011). Parental delay or refusal of vaccine doses, childhood vaccination coverage at 24 months of age, and the Health Belief Model. Public Health Reports, 135-146.
© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.