Survey Finds Strong Public Support for Infant Vaccines

A new Harris survey finds broad public support for immunizing infants and children against major diseases, even if the vaccines are expensive. The survey also found widespread support for government assistance in vaccinating infants against a rare but deadly form of meningitis. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive for two George Mason University research centers, the Center for Health and Risk Communication and the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

The major findings are as follows:

Public Support for Vaccines:

- 86% of the public favor the use of vaccines to immunize people against major diseases; only 10% oppose vaccination

- 33% think it is most important to develop new vaccines that protect many people against a disease

- 27% think protecting people against a rare but severe or fatal disease is most important

- 21% think that avoiding serious side effects is most important

Support for Immunizing Children:

- 43% believe it is most important to immunize infants and children, while the same number (43%) believe all age groups are equally important to immunize

- 86% believe the health benefits of immunizing children are worth the costs of purchasing and administering vaccines

- 91% see immunizing children as a basic healthcare service that everyone has a right to

- 89% believe the government should help low-income families to cover the costs of immunizing their children through the Vaccines for Children Program

Support for a Vaccine to Prevent Meningitis

- 66% believe the government should recommend using a new vaccine that prevents many cases of meningococcal meningitis, even though the disease strikes only 300 infants a year and could cost $300 per child who is vaccinated; 24% are opposed to this recommendation, and 10% are unsure

- 78% believe the government should make a meningitis vaccine available to low-income families through the Vaccines for Children Program.

- 83% believe the government should educate the public on the importance of meningitis vaccines for children

- 88% are opposed to the government saving money on healthcare costs by curbing access to new vaccines

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