Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Nearly 8-in-10 (79%) of BC Residents are concerned about the measles outbreak, and only 42% are very confident that they are protected.

Vancouver, BC – In our latest Insights West poll, the vast majority of BC residents are concerned about the Measles outbreak, and a relatively large number are not confident that vaccines are always effective in preventing disease. The survey also found there is a sizeable anti vax segment of citizens as well as perceived doubts about the overall effectiveness and possible side effects of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine.

Almost 8-in-10 British Columbians are concerned about the recently reported cases of measles in BC – 44% of residents are “very concerned”, while 35% of are “somewhat concerned”.  Interestingly, levels of concern are higher in women (49% “very concerned”) than men (39% of men), and among those 55+ (47%) compared to those aged 18-34 (41%). There are even some British Columbians who have been recently avoiding certain public locations due to the measles outbreak, including 7% who are avoiding swimming pools, 6% who are avoiding malls and shopping centres, and 6% who are avoiding their friends or family who are not vaccinated.

Although the majority of BC residents are fully behind vaccinations and have immunized themselves and their families (77%), a sizeable number (23%) of BC residents feel doubtful towards vaccines. A small but significant portion of British Columbians (9%) could be considered to be true anti-vaxxers, as 3% of BC residents feel that they have significant doubts or issues with vaccinations, and choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children (or would not if they were to have children), and a further 6% state they have doubts or issues with vaccinations and are selective on whether they choose to vaccinate or not. Just over 1-in-10 (14%) of British Columbians believe in vaccinations overall and decide to vaccinate themselves and their families to be on the safe side, but still have doubts about them.

There are a number of arguments against vaccinations that a sizeable minority of BC residents actually believe in. The most pronounced of these arguments is that “vaccines are not always effective in preventing diseases”, which 42% of British Columbians agree with—and particularly anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters (where 70% agree). Next is the argument that “vaccines may cause harmful side effects, including possible effects we don’t even know about”, and while only 21% of BC’ers agree with this, it’s a powerful doubt among the 58% of anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters who agree with this. The other big argument is that “vaccinations are encouraged because it is a way for pharmaceutical companies to make money” which is agreed to by 20% of the general public and 51% of anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters.

Some residents believe that there hasn’t been enough research to prove that vaccines are safe (14%) but a large number of anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters agree with this argument (42%).  The same number (14%) believes “vaccines prevent people from building up their own natural defenses to disease and make them more vulnerable to illness”, but this number jumps to 36% among anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters.

Over the years, there have been significant discussions about the perceived linkage of vaccinations to autism—and while only 8% of residents agree with the statement “vaccinations have been linked to autism”, a sizeable 25% of anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters still agree with this. The weakest argument is that “vaccine preventable diseases have been virtually eliminated in Canada, so it is no longer necessary for Canadian children to be vaccinated”, with only 8% agreeing, and 14% of anti-vaxxers and vax-doubters.

Many BC residents have vague memories and knowledge around vaccines taken and documentation. When considering the MMR vaccine, 10% are unsure whether they received the vaccine and an additional 20% believe they were vaccinated as children but don’t know the details. Interestingly, almost half (48%) of British Columbians do not have written or printed documentation of their MMR vaccination history, while another 26% are unsure, leaving only 26% of BC residents who possess the documentation.

There are also some significant doubts about how well vaccinated people are protected against disease overall, with only 42% of British Columbians being very confident about being protected and 43% who are somewhat confident, while 6% are not very confident, 1% are not at all confident, and 7% are not sure.

“We’ve finally surveyed British Columbians and their views on vaccinations, and there’s a significant level of doubt and belief in conspiracy theories that fly in the face of scientific evidence about vaccinations” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “The recent measles outbreak is evidence of this concerning societal trend, and the need for more education around this significant issue.”

BC residents are open to a wide variety of radical public policy initiatives in order to protect themselves from measles. When looking to the future, 9-in-10 British Columbians (90%) believe that parents should have to show documented proof of their children’s vaccinations when enrolling them in public school, and 77% think that unvaccinated children (aged 12 and older) whose parents disapprove of vaccinations should be able to choose to be vaccinated for themselves.  A majority of British Columbians (83%) believe that Canada should have a public central database of vaccination records, and 82% agree that any possible side effects of vaccinations far outweigh the risks. Three-quarters of BC residents (75%) think that public schools should be allowed to restrict enrollment to children who have received vaccinations and that it should be mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children.


About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 8 to March 11, 2019, among a representative sample of 807 BC adult residents. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West