The Great Vaccination Conversation: Fears persist in light of more disease outbreaks

Right now, there is an outbreak of measles – a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease – in the Western United States. Several dozen cases have been reported so far in California alone, with the majority of cases among people who visited or worked at Disneyland in late December (New York Times). In 2014, there were a total of 644 cases of measles and 23 measles outbreaks (CDC).

Measles isn’t the only vaccine-preventable disease that is resurfacing and causing great concern among public health officials. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, had 48,277 cases reported in 2012 – the highest volume of cases of this potentially fatal respiratory disease reported since 1955 (CDC).

Why are these diseases, which were once a distant memory recounted in storybooks, causing illness and death in 2015? Experts say it is due to the growing number of people choosing to decline immunization for themselves and/or their children.

Fears about the safety of vaccines have taken hold among parents whose fears are due to reading information posted online, conversations among family and friends, and watching celebrities share their own reservations with immunizations on a national stage. Despite these reservations, medical experts have repeatedly reassured parents and defended the safety of vaccines based on extensive scientific evidence.

In 2009, the National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents a series of questions about the sources of information they trust most when it comes to information about vaccines. Those results were peer-reviewed and published in the journal Pediatrics in 2011.

Which sources of vaccine information did parents trust the most?

Proportion of parents reporting a lot of trust in the following sources:

  • Their children’s doctors (76%)
  • Other health care providers (26%)
  • Government vaccines experts/officials (23%)
  • Family & friends (15%)
  • Celebrities (2%)

Additionally, 24% of parents said they place some trust in what celebrities say about vaccines.

What do you think?
What are your go-to sources of information about vaccines? Are you worried about the recent outbreaks of diseases like measles and whooping cough? Share your experiences in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH