The Perfect Enemy | Less than half of US parents plan to vaccinate young kids against COVID
August 11, 2022

Less than half of US parents plan to vaccinate young kids against COVID

Aug 04, 2022

Only one-fifth say they plan to have their preschooler vaccinated within 3 months.

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A nationwide survey study of more than 2,000 US parents of children aged 6 months to 4 years reveals that less than half intend to have their child vaccinated against COVID-19 and that only one-fifth say they plan to do so within 3 months of eligibility.

The research, from a team led by University of Iowa investigators for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was published yesterday in JAMA Network Open.

47% said they would wait 3 months or more

The authors fielded an online survey of 2,031 US parents of children 6 months to 4 years old about their intention to vaccinate their child against COVID-19 from Feb 2 to 10, 2022, 4 months before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended eligibility to this age-group. The survey was designed to inform the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ deliberations and recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination of young children on Jun 17, 2022.

The sample was 54.8% male and 66.2% White, with large shares being age 25 to 49 years (85.6%), having at least a bachelor’s degree (40.0%), living in a city (82.9%) or in a southern state (43.4%), and having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine (59.8%).

Of all participants, 45.6% said that they would “definitely” or “probably” have their child vaccinated once they became eligible, but only 19.0% said they would do so within 3 months of their eligibility, while 47.3% would wait longer, and 33.7% said they didn’t know if or when they would seek vaccination.

Respondents least likely to vaccinate their child were women rather than men (38.8% vs 51.3%), White versus Hispanic (43.2% vs 53.2%), less educated (a high school diploma or less, 37.4%; some college or a trade school certificate, 37.2%, vs a bachelor’s degree or more [58.3%]), and were unvaccinated against COVID-19 (14.8% vs at 66.4% at least partially vaccinated).

Those least likely to have their child vaccinated within 3 months of eligibility were women rather than men (15.6% vs 21.8%), were less educated (16.9% had a high school diploma or less, 12.9% had a college degree or trade school certificate vs a bachelor’s degree or more [25.2%]), and were unvaccinated against COVID-19 versus at least partially vaccinated (4.1% vs 29.1%).

Worries about vaccine safety, efficacy

Nearly a third (30.5%) of vaccine-hesitant parents said that more information on vaccine safety could assuage their concerns, while 28.3% said that more information on effectiveness would do so. Other possible facilitators were full FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for this age-group or worsening COVID-19 severity (both 21.3%).

More information on COVID-19 vaccine safety (30.5%) or efficacy (28.3%) in this age-group were the most-selected facilitators of vaccination, followed by full FDA approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for this age-group or COVID-19 cases becoming more severe (both 21.3%).

“These results suggest that only a minority of parents of children in this age group are eager to vaccinate their children within the first few months of eligibility, with widespread concerns about COVID-19 vaccination for this age group,” the researchers wrote.

“Thus, considerable efforts to increase parental COVID-19 vaccine confidence for children aged 6 months through 4 years may be needed to maximize COVID-19 vaccination for this age group in the United States.”