flu shot 2011

Americans Believe Vaccines are Unsafe (Do You?)

One in four Americans are concerned about the safety of vaccines. In a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters and NPR to gauge attitudes and opinions on different health issues, 21.4 percent even believe that vaccines can cause autism.

Households with children under the age of 18 showed the greatest level of concern at 30.8%, of which 47.3 percent attributed their fear to future long-term impact on health and 46 percent said they were worried about side effects.

Specific safety concerns include: vaccines can cause autism (21.4%); vaccines can be linked to cancer (9.2%); vaccines play a role in diabetes (6.9%); and vaccines and heart disease are connected (5.9%). Because of these reasons, nearly one in five said they have questioned or refused a vaccine for themselves or their children.

So, why the fear on vaccines? Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer at the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters, justifies:

“Ironically, these survey results are a testament to the effectiveness of vaccines: older people remember what illnesses like polio did to cripple and kill patients, but the younger generation has never seen someone with polio. Because of the elimination of diseases through immunization, there is a lack of understanding that the benefit of vaccines greatly outweighs the minimal risks of side effects both short and long term.”

This explains why the lowest level of concern (18.5%) was found in respondents 65 years old and up.

How about you, what is your opinion on vaccines?