In the wake of a rash of measles outbreaks this winter, a new public opinion survey finds the vast majority of Canadians want mandatory vaccinations for children entering school.
The Angus Reid survey says 70 per cent of respondents feel vaccinations against common deadly diseases should be required for school-aged kids, while nearly one-in-four (24 per cent) believe it should be the parent’s choice.
So far nine cases of measles have been confirmed at two French-language schools in Vancouver, which began after an unvaccinated B.C. child contracted the disease during a family trip to Vietnam.
A measles outbreak in Clark County in Washington has 63 confirmed cases, with the majority of those among unvaccinated children.
Lawmakers in Washington and Oregon are now considering legislations to tighten vaccine exemptions as the outbreak spreads.
Last month, the World Health Organization released its top-10 list of threats to global health in 2019, and vaccine hesitancy made the list.
The WHO said the measles cases rose by 30 per cent globally between 2016 and 2017.
Although not all of the cases were from vaccine hesitancy, countries close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.
Angus Reid said Thursday debate between “pro- and anti-vaccine parents rage on social media and in real life”, with 29 per cent of respondents saying the science on vaccinations isn’t “quite clear”.
The findings show 92 per cent of Canadians say vaccinations are effective at protecting the community against diseases, and more than four-in-five would not hesitate to have their children vaccinated.
The survey says 26 per cent are concerned about the risk of side effects for those being vaccinated.
When asked if parents against childhood vaccination are irresponsible, 50 per cent said they strongly agree, with another one-in-four moderately agreeing with the statement.
On the flip side of the argument, eight per cent strongly disagree and 13 per cent moderately disagree.
Doctor Eric Cadesky, a family physician and president of Doctors of BC, says Vancouver doctors are seeing an increase in the number of unvaccinated teens and young adults seeking to be inoculated against measles in the wake of the city outbreak.
With files from the Canadian Press.