Background: People’s intentions to use vaccines are influenced by their beliefs about both the specific vaccine and the disease it prevents. In the absence of firm beliefs about Zika virus (ZIKV), individuals may base their intentions to vaccinate against it on beliefs about other vaccines, and specifically the misbelief that MMR causes autism.
Methods: A survey of 3337 Americans, using a random-digit-dialing sample of landline telephone households and cell-phones.
Results: Intentions to use a Zika vaccine were influenced by beliefs about Zika, science in general, and MMR. Intentions were positively influenced by perceived severity of and vulnerability to Zika, as well as belief in science’s efficacy. However, intentions were negatively influenced by the belief that MMR causes autism in children.
Conclusion: The misbelief about MMR and autism may reduce people’s intentions to use a new Zika vaccine. However, perceptions of severity of and vulnerability to Zika may increase intentions. Implications for science educators and public health officials are discussed.