People who have poor general knowledge about science are more likely to be fearful of getting vaccinations for themselves or their children, a poll has suggested.
Those with a weaker knowledge about science are more likely to think the risk of serious side effects from immunisations are “high”, according to a Wellcome Trust survey.
While 4% of adults who scored highly on a science quiz thought the risk of serious side effects was high, this rose to 22% of adults who had achieved low scores.
But the survey, conducted on 1,300 UK adults, found that almost four in every five people regarded vaccinations as “safe”.
The news comes amid the outbreak of measles in South Wales.
This epidemic has been linked to low uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.
In 1998, now discredited research linked the vaccination to autism in children.
The study caused a global scare and uptake levels of the vaccination fell significantly in the years after its publication.
“The recent outbreak of measles in Wales, fuelled by lingering, but misplaced, fears over the MMR vaccine, demonstrates how challenging it can be to shake off people’s fears about vaccination,” Clare Matterson, director of medical humanities and engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said.
“This survey suggests that such fears are related to weaker science knowledge and demonstrates the importance of a solid science education.”