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Majority of British Columbians back vaccines, but sizable portion still have doubts: poll

WATCH: New poll shows mixed attitudes about measles and vaccinations

A large majority of British Columbians are concerned about the recent measles outbreak, but there is still a sizable “anti-vax” population as well.

That’s the conclusion of a new poll conducted by Insights West, which found nearly eight in 10 residents are worried about measles.

READ MORE: B.C. government to offer measles immunizations in schools starting in April

The poll found women (49 per cent) were more likely to be “very worried” about measles than men (39 per cent), as were respondents older than 55 (47 per cent) than those under 34 (41 per cent).

It also found some people were changing their behaviours due to measles concerns, including seven per cent who said they skipped swimming pools and six per cent each who avoided malls and friends or family who weren’t vaccinated.

WATCH: Unvaccinated children face public-space ban in New York measles outbreak

Unvaccinated children face public space ban in New York measles outbreak
Unvaccinated children face public space ban in New York measles outbreak

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents said they were “fully behind” vaccines, and have immunized themselves and their families.

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However, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines are safe, the survey found that 23 per cent of respondents had some doubts about vaccines.

Nine per cent of those doubters could be considered “true anti-vaxxers,” the poll found, including six per cent who were selective about vaccines and three per cent who fully choose not to vaccinate themselves or their kids.

READ MORE: What we can learn from the current measles outbreak in B.C.

It found 14 per cent had some doubts but chose to vaccinate themselves or their children just to be on the safe side.

The poll also shed light on arguments against vaccines that have the most sway among British Columbians.

WATCH: B.C. government to offer measles’ vaccines at schools

B.C. government to offer measles’ vaccines at schools
B.C. government to offer measles’ vaccines at schools

Chief among those arguments was that vaccines aren’t always effective in preventing diseases, which 42 per cent of British Columbians agree with.

Other arguments found majority support among anti-vaxxers, but not a large portion of British Columbians.

Those include the argument that “vaccines may cause harmful side effects, including possible effects we don’t know about,” which 58 per cent of anti-vaxxers agreed with but just 21 per cent of the general public did.

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READ MORE: MMR vaccinations jumped in B.C. after measles outbreak, data shows

Similarly, 51 per cent of anti-vaxxers agreed with the statement that “vaccinations are encouraged because it is a way for pharmaceutical companies to make money,” while just 20 per cent of British Columbians did.

As for the discredited argument that vaccines cause autism, just eight per cent of British Columbians still expressed belief in the theory. However, the poll found that a sizable portion of vaccine doubters, 25 per cent, still subscribed to the idea.

The poll was conducted from March 8 to March 11 among 807 adult British Columbians. It is considered accurate within 3.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.