March 9, 2015 4:37 am
Updated: March 9, 2015 1:23 pm

Who are the anti-vaxxers in Canada? New poll profiles resistant group

In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, a pediatrician holds a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
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While some anti-vaxxer parents in Canada may be highly educated or come from wealthy households, the main reason why this group is turning down vaccination is for health reasons. This is the typical profile of the Canadian parent who has unvaccinated children, according to a new poll.

As measles cases pop up across the country, pollsters at Mainstreet Technologies zero in on anti-vaxxers in Canada. The previous results say that 20 per cent of respondents thought that vaccines are linked to autism.

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READ MORE: Why is measles so contagious? 5 things you need to know

“We found in earlier research a surprising amount of mistrust in vaccines. We wanted to see specifically why parents with children have made the decision to not vaccinate,” Quito Maggi, president of the public research firm, said in a statement.

“We found that the major reason, by far, parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids is health concerns. Education and income really aren’t a factor when you take a close look at the make-up of anti-vaxxers. Despite the fact that measles has regularly been in the news over the past two months, 80 per cent of respondents still say they are not at all likely to vaccinate their children. This is a continuing problem for those who cannot be vaccinated and depend on herd immunity for coverage,” he said.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination movement means preventable diseases making a comeback

Based on polling 1,013 Canadian parents with unvaccinated kids, the pollsters learned that:

  • 40 per cent come from households with over $100,000 in income
  • 38 per cent hold a university degree while 66 per cent have completed post-secondary education
  • 65 per cent cite health reasons for not vaccinating
  • 19 per cent say religious reasons are what make them refuse vaccines
  • Another seven per cent said philosophical reasons stood in the way of vaccination

READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked

Last month, Mainstreet focused on Ontario: 77 per cent of the province said that daycares and other child care centres should refuse kids who haven’t been vaccinated. Fifty-eight per cent of residents say that parents shouldn’t have a say in whether their kids are vaccinated or not either.

To be clear, doctors and scientists have said on repeat: vaccines are safe and effective. Research in the 1990s that pointed to a link between autism and vaccines has been retracted.

Toronto Public Health, among other jurisdictions, spent this winter battling a measles outbreak.

In the U.S., nearly 100 cases have been reported in Michigan, Arizona, Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Nebraska.

READ MORE: Measles outbreak with Disney park origins grows to 95 cases

At this same time last year, outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and mumps were widely reported across Canada and into the U.S. The thing is, these diseases are preventable with vaccines.

Last April, Alberta dealt with another whooping cough outbreak. In B.C., the Fraser Valley has seen measles cases rise to more than 300. Meanwhile, pockets of cases have broken out in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

READ MORE: Why the NHL locker room is the perfect catalyst for a mumps outbreak

Don’t forget last Christmas’ mumps outbreak within the NHL.

Doctors are pointing to one culprit: a steadily growing anti-vaccination movement.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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