Childhood Vaccinations are Seen as Important, but Parental Worries Persist


ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Nearly all Americans (97 percent) think that it is somewhat or very important for all children to receive vaccinations according to the results of a new Harris Interactive(R) poll of 2,093 adults conducted online between August 18 and 20, 2004 for the Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition.

Three of four adults (77 percent) also believe that while nearly half of all children in the United States are vaccinated today, it is not good enough to offer protection to all children.

Even though Americans believe in the importance of vaccinating children, they also have concerns; these concerns are greater for parents than they are for the general public. Thirty-eight percent of all adults vs. 46 percent of parents are somewhat or very concerned about the short-term side effects of vaccinations such as fever, nausea or pain at the injection site. Somewhat larger proportions (43 percent of adults vs. 53 percent of parents) are concerned that a child might get the disease for which the vaccination is intended to provide protection. Likewise, parents are somewhat more concerned than adults in general about the likelihood that a child might develop a long-term serious medical condition as a result of the vaccination (43 percent of adults vs. 52 percent of parents).

One in 10 parents feels uncomfortable vaccinating his or her children because of health concerns. By contrast, only a small minority (one percent) feels uncomfortable vaccinating their children for religious or moral reasons.

"Nearly all parents believe that childhood vaccinations are important and under used," says Katherine Binns, senior vice president of health care at Harris Interactive. "That said, many also have safety concerns, and a sizable minority is uncomfortable having their children vaccinated. Ultimately these qualms will continue to challenge the public health community as it seeks to increase the prevalence of childhood vaccinations."

Downloadable PDFs of Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health- Care Polls are posted at


Harris Interactive(R) conducted this online study between August 18 and 20, 2004. A nationwide sample of 2,093 U.S. adults (age 18+), of whom 461 are parents of pre-school or school-aged children under the age of 18 were surveyed. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus 3 percentage points (for the overall sample). Statistical precision for the parent sample results is plus or minus 7 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of parents with pre-school or school-aged children under the age of 18 had been polled with complete accuracy. This online sample was not a probability sample.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Source: Harris Interactive

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