THURSDAY, March 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- In the wake of the measles outbreak that has generated headlines for months, more Americans now say they have positive feelings toward childhood vaccinations, according to a new HealthDay/Harris Poll.
Of more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 87 percent said they thought that the vaccines routinely given to young children are safe. That's up from 77 percent from a similar poll last July.
Among the new poll's other findings:
- 82 percent of respondents say childhood vaccinations should be mandatory for all children, up from 77 percent in the July poll.
- 79 percent say there's at least a moderate level of risk that an unvaccinated child could contract a disease that vaccinations are designed to protect against. That's an increase of 5 percentage points since the July poll.
- 69 percent say a child contracting a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles would present at least a moderate danger to other children, up from 64 percent in July.
The new poll also revealed that 77 percent of adults believe that parents who don't want their children vaccinated should be required to get a doctor's certificate showing why they chose not to have them vaccinated. And 72 percent think that if a child is not vaccinated, he or she should not be allowed to attend school.
There's also been a small but measurable shift in the understanding of what's called "herd immunity." Less than a year ago, roughly three in 10 Americans (29 percent) agreed that since most children get vaccinated, it's alright if some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Today, roughly two in 10 (21 percent) agree with that sentiment, the poll found.
Dr. Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, sees the shift as encouraging. And while the reasons for it aren't certain, it's safe to assume that the measles outbreak is the driving force, he said.
"I think the measles outbreak is causing some people to re-examine their 'facts' about childhood vaccinations," Glatt said. "Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a scare."