Hurdles to herd immunity: Distrust of government and vaccine refusal in the US, 2002–2003

Charlotte Lee, Kathryn Whetten, Saad Omer, William Pan, Daniel Salmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


High rates of nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) from required childhood vaccinations have contributed to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and pertussis. Understanding the parental decision to obtain an NME could help health professionals and public health programs improve vaccination rates in areas with high vaccine refusal. Using a 2002–2003 multi-state survey of parents of school age children (​n = 2445), this study found that parental distrust of the government and of healthcare providers is a significant factor related to a number of vaccine-related beliefs and behaviors. The odds that parents who distrust the government have seen a complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) provider were 2.11 times greater than those of parents who trust the government (70.1% vs 52.6%; OR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.59–2.84; P 

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3972-3978
Number of pages7
Issue number34
StatePublished - Jul 25 2016


  • Anti-vaccine
  • Distrust
  • Government
  • Healthcare provider
  • Immunization
  • Vaccine refusal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • veterinary(all)
  • Molecular Medicine

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