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

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Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Mary Van Beusekom | News Writer | CIDRAP News

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.”