ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 8 (UPI) -- More than a third of U.S. parents more strongly support vaccine requirements and a quarter of them regard vaccines as safer than they did a year ago, according to a poll by conducted the University of Michigan.
The poll found vaccine views stayed largely the same over the last year, however the noticeable portion of parents whose support has increased over the last year is likely due to recent outbreaks and an increase of information about the safety and benefits of immunization, researchers said.
"Over the last year there have been high-profile news stories about outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough. These news reports may be influencing how parents perceive childhood vaccines across the country," said Matthew M. Davis, deputy director for the University of Michigan's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, in a press release.
"For a quarter to a third of parents to say that their views on the safety and benefits of vaccines have shifted in just a year's time is quite remarkable. Parents' perceptions that vaccines are safer and offer more benefits are also consistent their stronger support of daycare and school entry requirements for immunizations."
The poll found that, compared to last year, 34 percent of parents believe vaccines have more benefit , 25 percent believe them to be safer, and 35 percent more strongly support vaccination requirements for daycare and school. Comparatively, 5 percent of parents now see vaccines as less beneficial, 7 percent think they are less safe, and 6 percent are less supportive of requirements for immunization.
Compared to last year, 40 percent also believe the risk of measles for children has increased and 37 percent think the risk for whooping cough has increased.
"Media coverage of outbreaks over the past year, accompanied by messages about vaccines for whooping cough and measles, may be swaying parents' opinions toward stronger beliefs in the positive aspects of vaccines," Davis said. "The impact of such shifts in perception will ultimately be measured by whether more parents vaccinate their kids."
The poll was conducted in May 2015 among 1,416 parents with at least one child under the age of 17.