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Thursday, March 14, 2024

Myths and Misinformation About the Measles Vaccine

While most of the public correctly view the false claim that “The measles vaccine is more dangerous than the disease itself” as false, the findings echo previous KFF research showing that a majority express at least some uncertainty in their beliefs related to health claims. More than half of U.S. adults say this claim is either “probably false” (41%) or “probably true” (16%). Few (3%) say it is “definitely true” while four in ten (38%) are confident that the claim is “definitely false.”

Across partisans, levels of educational attainment, and race and ethnicity, fewer than five percent of adults say the claim is “definitely true,” meaning there are few ardent believers of this piece of misinformation. However, independents (37%) and Republicans (21%) are less likely than Democrats (59%) to be certain that the claim is “definitely false.” Those without a college degree (29%) are also less likely to say that the claim is definitely false than those with a college degree (55%).

While few adults say that this piece of misinformation is true, the public is split between saying it is “probably false” (41%) or “definitely false” (38%). Parents of children under age 18 are especially likely to say that this piece of information is “probably false” (50%). Having such a sizable group lean towards the correct answer, but be uncertain, may present an opportunity for intervention. Clear, accurate messaging from trusted sources, such as pediatricians, regarding the safety of the measles vaccine may solidify the public’s — and parents’ — correct inclination that the measles vaccine is not more dangerous than contracting the disease. This would allow parents to be more confident in their decisions when it comes to vaccinating their young children.