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Plans to Vaccinate Children Against COVID-19 Among Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Parents

Parents who were themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 were more likely to vaccinate their children than parents who were not, yet even vaccinated parents showed some hesitancy.

Vaccinating children against COVID-19 has been approved by the CDC and FDA and is considered the most effective way to reduce disease burden.

However, many parents have been hesitant to vaccinate their children, even if they themselves are vaccinated.

In March 2020, the CHASING COVID nationwide cohort study was initiated to understand how COVID-19 was affecting various communities. US residents 18 years and older were recruited in the study, and parents with children 2-17 years old were asked if they would immediately vaccinate their child when eligible (yes/no).

Parents were classified as either “vaccine hesitant” (indicated they would delay or never receive the COVID-19 vaccine) or “vaccine willing/vaccinated” (vaccinated or willing to vaccinate immediately).

The survey analysis consisted of 1162 parents, aged an average of 40.6 years. In June 2021, 74.4% of parents (n=842) were already vaccinated or vaccine-willing, and 25.6% (n=298) were vaccine hesitant. During this time, 48% (n=212) of adolescents 12-15 years and 58% (n=135) of adolescents 16-17 years received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccinated/vaccine-willing parents were more likely than vaccine-hesitant parents to have already vaccinated their child or intended to immediately vaccinate their child as soon as they were approved; 64.9% vs 8.3% for children 2-4 years, 77.6% vs 12.1% for children 5-11, 81.3% vs 13.9% for children 12-15, and 86.4% vs 12.7% for children 16-17.

Among the vaccinated/vaccine-willing parents, 10% would not immediately vaccinate their child. The most frequently cited reason for this delay was concern about vaccine-related long-term adverse events in children.

Black and Hispanic parents were less willing to vaccinate their children than parents who were non-Hispanic white, women, younger, and not college educated. Parents who currently had children attending school partially or fully remotely were more likely to have them vaccinated, as compared to parents with children attending school fully in-person. Parents who had personally recovered from COVID-19 infection or who knew someone who died of COVID-19 were more likely to vaccinate their children.

Parents who were themselves vaccinated were more likely to vaccinate their children than parents who were not, yet even vaccinated parents showed some hesitancy. The study authors wrote that parental vaccine hesitancy impedes schools attempting to resume in-person instruction. They recommended that public health agencies clearly communicate the critical nature of vaccinating children against COVID-19, as well as address and alleviate parents’ concerns about potential side effects.