A recent poll of over 2,000 parents with children between ages three and 18 showed that half of them believe it is “unlikely” that they will have their kids vaccinated against COVID-19. The most common reason is that the parents fear the side effects of the vaccine and that it is highly unlikely for children to get infected with the SARS-CoV-19 virus anyway.
The survey, which was conducted by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at Michigan Medicine, found that 39 percent of parents said that their children already got inoculated, but as many as 40 percent said it was “unlikely” that they will have their children vaccinated.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is currently available for children ages 12 and older, but the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether or not the Moderna vaccine can be used in the same age group as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted parents to think about the health of their children and their safety, from wearing masks to attending face-to-face events.
“As COVID vaccine authorizations expand to younger age groups, parents are also considering whether and when their child should get vaccinated.” Mott Poll co-director Dr. Sarah Clark said in a news release “As children prepare to return to school, our poll provides insight into parents’ current stance on vaccinating kids and what factors into their decision making.” (Related: Children must not be vaccinated for COVID-19.)
Doctors’ opinions can influence parents’ stance on vaccinating their children
Clinical trials are underway for authorizing vaccines for children under 12 years, however, many parents agree that the recommendation of their children’s health care provider will be influential in making their decision.
Around 70 percent of parents with children under the age of twelve say they haven’t discussed the vaccine with their children’s doctors yet.
“Typically, parents look to their child’s regular healthcare provider for information and guidance on vaccines for their child. But our report suggests that half of parents of children 12-18 years, for whom the COVID vaccine is already recommended and available, have not discussed it with their child’s provider,” Clark noted.
Other factors that parents consider are testing in children’s age group (63 percent), how well the vaccine works in children (62 percent), and their own research (56 percent).
There are many ways for parents to get information regarding the vaccine, however, some sources may be more technical or difficult to understand, while others may not be completely true and may exaggerate some aspects of information to support their own beliefs or perspectives regarding the vaccination.
Clark shared, “Discussing the COVID vaccine with pediatricians and other child health providers will help parents sort through all the data and make an informed choice that is right for their child and their family.”
“Our poll suggests parents are already forming opinions, and it’s essential that their decision-making process include accurate information, as well as a professional recommendation from the child’s healthcare provider.”
Providers can also help parents differentiate between side effects that reflect normal immune responses, such as fever and sore arms, from more serious events that could cause unintended or more serious problems.
Parents can also ask their health care provider to explain aspects of vaccination that they don’t understand, the emergency use authorization in place for COVID-19 vaccination, and how it compares to full approval, and even how to interpret data regarding the effectiveness and side effects of the vaccine.
In 2020, more than 2 million of nearly 30 million confirmed COVID-19 cases involved children. However, while the majority of children and teens have mild symptoms, there are rare cases where persistent symptoms continue months after recovery. Some also develop rare but serious COVID-linked conditions called multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C.
“It’s important that parents and providers don’t wait for full COVID vaccine approval to begin discussions about vaccination,” Clark said.
Read more COVID-19 vaccination updates at Pandemic.news.