Oklahomans strongly support vaccines and are against weakening vaccination requirements, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families.
The telephone poll conducted in October found that 96% of Oklahomans believe vaccines are effective at preventing disease and 85% say their benefits outweigh risks. Additionally, 71% oppose legislation that would loosen vaccination requirements and 54% are against the personal exemption that allows Oklahoma parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.
“With our families in Oklahoma thinking about vaccinating their children, we know that these are difficult choices because there’s a lot of misinformation out there around vaccines,” said Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department.
“As a public health practitioner, we don’t support immunizations simply because of public health. We support it because the science tells us that this is one of the best ways that you can protect your children.
“The bottom line is that when the community around us is vaccinated we’re all that much safer from these diseases that don’t have to happen in today’s reality, in today’s communities.”
WPA Intelligence — founded by conservative pollster Chris Wilson — conducted the survey for OAHF, a statewide coalition of medical experts and parents. The poll was underwritten by BIO, which describes itself as the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers.
The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points, and its results were weighted by age, race and sex to match Oklahoma’s demographics.
The survey also found that 84% of Oklahomans support requiring schools to track students’ vaccination statuses and 76% who support the disclosure of aggregate data in a way that doesn’t identify a specific child or family.
Dart said Oklahoma lacks a statewide immunization registry, but the state is working to develop one. The value of a registry, which exists in other states, is pinpointing gaps in populations to do specific outreach efforts and boost vaccination rates, he said.
Freedom of individual choice is important in Oklahoma, he said, but people have the right to know their children and loved ones are protected from preventable diseases.
“We all deserve to feel safe, we all deserve to have healthy communities, we all deserve to make the right choices based on science and great information to help us as parents and grandparents protect our families and protect our children,” Dart said.
Dart said consulting your family’s health-care provider is the best way to address any concerns about vaccines, with the survey results reflective of Oklahomans listening to their doctors.
Jacqueline McDaniel, OAHF’s executive director, said her organization aims to improve public health through education and engagement.