President Donald Trump has voiced skepticism about the safety and necessity of vaccinating children. But a vast majority of Americans disagree with him and support mandatory vaccines, a new survey determined.
The Pew Research poll, conducted before the November 2016 election and released on Feb. 2, found that 82 percent of Americans believe that parents of public school students should be required to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps and rubella. While 66 percent said that there is a low risk of side effects from the popular vaccine, a full 88 percent said that the benefits still outweigh any possible risks. Meanwhile, 73 percent said that the shot offers serious preventative health benefits.
Many vaccine opponents have raised concerns about secondary ingredients in the shots that children receive, such as the preservative thimerosal, which skeptics say may cause autism. According to the Center for Disease Control, no vaccine ingredients, including thimerosal, have been shown to have any connection to the disability, although the ingredient has nonetheless largely been reduced or eliminated from most formulas since its safety came under review in 2001.
Throughout his campaign and into his presidency, Trump has spoken with leaders of the anti-vaccine movement and has publicly questioned whether childhood vaccines are safe and effective.
"We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic," Trump said during a 2015 Republican primary debate, according to the Washington Post.
After he won the election, Trump also met with Robert Kennedy Jr., a leader of the movement that believes that some vaccine ingredients cause autism, and suggested that he was open to creating a panel to investigate whether or not vaccines are safe.
However, most Americans believe that vaccine policy decisions should not be made by politicians, with only 25 percent of respondents in the Pew Research poll stating that elected officials should determine vaccination requirements. A 73-percent majority said that the requirements should be left up to medical scientists, while 47 percent believed that the general public should have a say.