More parents want measles vaccine optional as COVID-19 vax fatigue spreads to other shots

More than a third of parents say vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella should be a personal choice and not a requirement for school attendance, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

It is a marked shift since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uproar over coronavirus vaccine mandates.

Diseases like measles are highly contagious, so all U.S. states and the District of Columbia require MMR shots as a prerequisite for attending public school while offering some exemptions.

Now, KFF says 35% of parents of children 18 or younger believe parents should be able to decide whether their kids get the MMR vaccine “even if that may create health risks for other children and adults.”

It is a notable increase from the 23% of parents who responded similarly to a Pew Research Center poll in 2019.

Among all adults, 28% said the shots should be optional, up from 16% in the pre-pandemic Pew poll.

The findings will fuel concerns that COVID-19 vaccine fatigue will spill into other vaccines that, for decades, have been accepted as routine.

Scientists are warning that vaccine hesitancy — an issue that festered long before the coronavirus arrived — has been turbocharged by the pandemic and amplified fringe views about how a range of vaccines are made and whether they should be required in certain instances.

A notable measles outbreak swept through parts of Rockland County, New York, in 2019 and Minnesota battled an outbreak earlier this fall. An ongoing outbreak in central Ohio has infected nearly 80 children.

“What’s really driving this is, unfortunately, a lack of vaccination, which is just heartbreaking,” Dr. Nora Colburn, an adult infectious diseases physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, told CNN this month.

Despite the shift in views on school requirements, 85% of the public and 80% of parents say the benefits of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines outweigh their risks — hardly changed from 2019 when 88% of the public and 83% of parents responded that way.

KFF said that growing opposition to the vaccine requirement stems from shifts among people who identify as Republican or lean Republican, with 44% saying parents should be able to opt out — up from 20% in 2019.

The vast majority of Democrats and those who lean Democratic support requiring vaccines for public school students (88%), a slight increase from 2019 (86%).

Among persons who have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, a big majority (70%) say the benefits of these childhood vaccines outweigh the risks, though one in four (26%) say the risks outweigh the benefits.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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