Many people in U.S. households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next 12 months are not aware of key facts about Zika virus, according to a new poll by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. The nationally representative poll of 1,275 adults, including 105 who live in households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next 12 months, was conducted March 2-8, 2016 in cooperation with the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), an organization serving state and local public health communications officers.

Among people in households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant, the researchers found:

  • Approximately one in four (23%) are not aware of the association between Zika virus and the birth defect microcephaly.
  • One in five (20%) believe, incorrectly, that there is a vaccine to protect against Zika virus.
  • Approximately four in 10 (42%) do not realize Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.
  • A quarter (25%) think individuals infected with Zika virus are “very likely” to show symptoms.

Such results suggest this key segment of the population does not have the latest Zika virus information presented by public health officials.

“We have a key window before the mosquito season gears up in communities within the United States mainland to correct misperceptions about Zika virus so that pregnant women and their partners may take appropriate measures to protect their families,” says Gillian SteelFisher, director of the poll and research scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School.

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