Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll Finds One in Four Americans Believe Vaccines are Unsafe

Concern over Links to Autism Persists

Sep 30, 2011, 05:00 ET from Thomson Reuters

ANN ARBOR, Mich. and WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than one-quarter of Americans are concerned about the value and safety of vaccines and 21.4 percent believe vaccines can cause autism, according to the Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll.

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Thomson Reuters and NPR conduct the monthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.

In the latest survey in the series, 26.6 percent of respondents expressed concern over the safety of vaccines. Households with children under the age of 18 demonstrated the greatest level of concern (30.8%).  The lowest level of concern (18.5%) was found in respondents 65 years old and up.

Among those with concerns, 47.3 percent attributed their fear of vaccines to future long-term impact on health and 46.0 percent said they were worried about side effects.

Nearly one in five said they have questioned or refused a vaccine for themselves or their children -- with a higher rate among those under 35 (28.1 percent) and a lower rate among those 65 and older (12.7 percent).

When asked about specific safety concerns, 21.4 percent of respondents said they believe vaccines can cause of autism, 9.2 percent said they believe vaccines can be linked to cancer, 6.9 percent believe they play a role in diabetes, and 5.9 percent cite a connection between vaccines and heart disease.

Overall, 24 percent of respondents said their opinions of vaccines have changed in the past five years. Of those, 59 percent say their views on vaccines have become less favorable.

"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," said Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer at the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. "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."

For a copy of the vaccine survey results. visit

To date, the Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous healthcare topics, including generic drugs, abortion, vaccines, food allergies, and organic and genetically modified foods. NPR's reports on the surveys are archived online at the Shots health blog here:

Thomson Reuters maintains a library of poll results:

The Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Thomson Reuters PULSE(SM) Healthcare Survey, an independently funded, nationally representative telephone poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from more than 100,000 US households annually. Survey questions are developed in conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month's poll are based on 3,011 participants interviewed from August 1-16, 2011. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.

About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals.  We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization.  With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 55,000 people and operates in over 100 countries.  For more information, go to

About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public - one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

SOURCE Thomson Reuters