It would be difficult to have gotten this far into the year without having a conversation about vaccination.
When measles cases started spreading across North America this winter, it roused arguments among people who have chosen not to vaccinate their children vs. the vast majority of parents who do.
On Monday, polling company Mainstreet Technologies asked people who identified themselves as anti-vaxxers exactly what guided them to this decision. Speaking with 1,013 Canadian parents who have not vaccinated their children between the ages of one and 14, the study found the majority were worried about the potential future effects.
“We found that the major reason, by far, parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children is health concerns. Education and income really aren’t a factor when you take a close look at the make-up of anti-vaxxers," said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Technologies.
Religious reasons made up 19 per cent of the anti-vaccination answers, while philosophical reasons (which were not expanded upon) were responsible for eight per cent.
Although this particular survey focused mostly on the demographics of anti-vaxxers, previous questionnaires from the company specifically asked about autism, the developmental disorder often cited by people as their main concern. Across four provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario), anywhere from 20 to 26 per cent of respondents completely or somewhat agreed that "some vaccines can cause autism."
And while this survey reflected parents between the ages of 18 and 65-plus, another survey conducted by Angus Reid Institute, adults 18 to 34 were found to be the most likely to oppose vaccinations, with nine per cent fully against them, and 26 per cent on the fence.
But that might not be the only thing parents fear when it comes to health. In a post on her blog, Playground Confidential, writer Rebecca Keenan noted that within an admittedly small sample group of four anti-vaxx (or previously anti-vaxx) parents, autism was not a factor in any of their decisions. Instead, a general distaste for "Big Pharma" medications and a preference for natural health options dominated.
Mainstreet Technologies also asked whether the measles outbreak would make the anti-vaxx respondents reconsider their decisions. For a full 79 per cent of respondents, the answer was "not at all likely," while another five per cent said they were "slightly likely."
This may feed into the well-publicized idea, as Grist.org notes, that most people who are anti-vaccinations don't change their minds, even when confronted with scientific evidence.
Check out the full survey results below:
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