Poll: 72 percent say parents should be required to vaccinate their children

Just a quarter say the choice to vaccinate should be left up to the parents
Child receives varicella vaccination
A clinical assistant gives a varicella booster vaccination in South Portland, Oregon on June 4, 2015.Gregory Rec / Press Herald via Getty Images file

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By Elena Moore

More than seven in 10 Americans support requiring parents to vaccinate their children, according to newly released data from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal.

A significant majority — 72 percent — favor vaccination requirements, while a quarter (25 percent) believe the choice should be left up to the parents. Just three percent said they were unsure about the issue

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The new NBC/WSJ polling comes as the number of reported measles cases continues to increase around the country, with more than 700 reported cases so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2015, a CBS News poll of adults found that 66 percent supported required vaccinations and 32 percent believed it should be up to parental preferences.

In the NBC/WSJ data, the greatest opposition to required vaccinations appears to be among parents themselves, with 37 percent opposing the vaccination requirements and 61 percent supporting them.

In contrast, those who are not parents are overwhelmingly in favor of requiring vaccinations, at 77 percent.

There is also variation between different age groups, with Americans ages 35-49 least likely to support required vaccinations. Just 59 percent in that group support vaccination requirements, compared with 73 percent of those under 35, 78 percent of those ages 50-64 and 84 percent of seniors.

African Americans are also less likely than their white or Latino counterparts to support required vaccinations. More than a third — 36 percent — of African Americans believe vaccinations should be left up to the parents, compared with 23 percent of whites and 20 percent of Latinos.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 28 – May 1, 2019. The margin of error for all adults is +/- 3.27 percent.