When you break it down by age group, though, you find out a little more about who, exactly, makes up the 9 percent category. Pew reported that Americans age 18 to 29 are significantly more likely than their parents and grandparents to say that vaccinations are not safe. Fifteen percent of younger Americans in this age bracket say they think the vaccinations are unsafe, more than double the number of Americans ages 50 or older.
This vaccine was so successful that by 2000, measles was deemed eliminated in the United States. In the years that followed, measles was barely a blip on the public-health radar; in any given year, there were between 37 and 220 cases, though the number mostly stayed in the double-digits. The situation changed last year, when there were 644 cases.
In other words, if you just turned 65, you reached your teenage years knowing how severe measles could be. If you just turned 29, you became a teenager when the disease was so rare it was declared eliminated. And over the last half-century, older Americans have seen the dramatic shift in measles contraction in this country. They have seen their children and grandchildren get vaccinated, and they have seen the disease recede. Meanwhile, over the last 15 years, younger Americans have heard from celebrities and other voices questioning a vaccination that, to them, attacks a problem they never really had reason to understand.