May 23 (UPI) -- A study from the University of British Columbia shows negative public perception toward mothers who do not vaccinate their child no matter the reason.
In recent years, there has been much public debate on the safety of vaccinations and the fact they are incorrectly linked to autism. The vast majority of medical professionals and scientists have confirmed that vaccinations do not cause autism. However, that has not stopped many parents from refusing vaccinations in fear they will make their children autistic.
Researchers at UBC conducted an online survey of 1,469 U.S. respondents from June 29 to July 2, 2015 on public perception of parents who do not vaccinate their children.
Respondents were presented with three different scenarios: the first described a mother who refused to vaccinate over safety concerns; the second scenario describes a mother who delays vaccines over safety concerns; the third described a mother who was not concerned about vaccine safety but time constraints kept her from staying up-to-date on vaccines for her children. Researchers used mothers in the scenarios because mothers are typically the primary caregivers and decision-makers for their children's health.
Researchers found that respondents viewed mothers negatively if their child wasn't vaccinated regardless of the reason, but mothers who refused vaccinations over unsubstantiated safety concerns were viewed the harshest.
"How under-vaccinated children and their parents are viewed by others heavily depends on the reasons why the child hasn't been vaccinated," Richard Carpiano, UBC sociology professor, said in a press release. "If the parent has simply refused vaccines, we found that people view them more negatively than if the parent delayed some vaccines because of safety concerns or if they didn't have time because of work or family demands."
Researchers found that respondents who stigmatized both the parent and under-vaccinated child regardless of the reason for not being vaccinated were more likely to support stricter public policies banning under-vaccinated children from schools.
The study was published in Social Science and Medicine.