Gallup poll: Fewer Americans think vaccines are essential

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COLUMBIA - A new Gallup poll says the number of Americans who think vaccines are essential has dropped 10 percent since 2001. (Take the KOMU 8 News survey on vaccinations.)

15 percent of respondents saying vaccines are "somewhat," "not very" or "not important at all" is up from 2001's 6 percent.

Dr. Jason Zerrer said he doesn't think the study's results are surprising because many don't realize anti-vaccination information has been retracted.

"The bad data that was out there has been refuted, and it's perfectly safe," Zerrer said. "For the good of the community, whether that's school, town, state, country, etc. you should get vaccinated."

The poll also says the chance that Americans have heard disadvantages about vaccines has doubled in 14 years, but the number of people who have heard about advantages has also increased. Dr. Zerrer said social media likely plays a role.

"The exchange of misinformation happens at breathtaking speed," he said. "Without somebody to refute that, misconceptions and mis perceptions and just a general distrust of government, big pharmacies and things like that, it just takes off like wildfire."

Overall, the majority, 54 percent, do say it's extremely important to have children vaccinated, and Dr. Zerrer agrees.

"As a member of the medical community and a father of two kids, you have to get your kids vaccinated," he said." It is the right thing to do. It is safe. It's been proven in multiple studies in multiple different ways. It is safe and the data the came out saying that is wasn't is incorrect. You can't say it much more simply than get your kids vaccinated."

Ella Edwards has a 9-month-old daughter and said it was a "no brainer" to have her vaccinated.

"I think it's extremely important to get your children vaccinated to protect them from preventable diseases," she said.

Dr. Zerrer said this became apparent during the recent measles outbreak.

"The whole anti-vax movement has kind of blown up since this Disneyland thing with the measles," he said. "For the good of the community, always getting vaccinated whether it's MMR, chicken pox or flu, is a good idea."