Study: Parents of young children are more "vaccine hesitant"

They stand apart from the 73% of Americans who see the MMR vaccine as a benefit, the 66% who say there is a low risk of side effects and the 88% who say the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Further, some 82% of Americans support requiring children attending public school to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella because of the potential health risk to others. By contrast, 17% of Americans say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate and 10% believe the risks outweigh the benefits.

Public health officials place particular importance on the views of parents who must decide whether or not to follow the recommended schedule to immunize their children for measles, mumps and rubella starting when their children are between 12 and 15 months old.

The new survey finds that parents with children ages 4 or younger are more concerned than other Americans about the potential risk of side effects from the MMR vaccine. About half (52%) of parents with children ages 0 to 4 say the risk of side effects is low, while 43% say it is medium or high. By contrast, seven-in-ten adults with no minor-age children (70%) rate the risk of side effects from the vaccine as low.