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Younger parents less likely to vaccinate their children and themselves against COVID-19

Nov. 16, 2020, 8:42 AM

Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH

Younger parents were much less likely than older parents to say they planned to vaccinate their children and themselves against COVID-19, according to a research letter published online in medRxiv by authors at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Only 52% of parents age 18-35 were likely to vaccinate their children against COVID-19, compared with 67% of parents 36-45 and 69 percent of parents 46 and older.

Overall, 63% of parents are willing to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and about 60% are likely to get the vaccine themselves.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on the lives of children and families across the U.S.,” said Stephen Patrick, MD, MPH, MS, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy and senior author of the study. “While a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will likely play an important role in returning families’ lives back to normal, it can only achieve that goal if parents trust its safety for themselves and their children. Understanding and addressing parental COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is essential as we prepare to enter this critical phase of the pandemic.”

 Parents with high school or less education were less likely than parents with a college degree to vaccinate their children and themselves against COVID-19, and non-Hispanic white parents were less likely than Hispanic parents to vaccinate their children and themselves against COVID-19.

The survey results, from a sample of 1,108 households across the United States, also found no association between state COVID-19 case and mortality rates with parental likelihood of vaccinating themselves or their children against the coronavirus.

“Parents’ willingness to vaccinate themselves and their children against COVID-19 will be vital to preventing community-wide spread of coronavirus, once a vaccine becomes available,” said Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who was the lead author of the study. “If COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in children, vaccinating youth may be integral to reducing the transmission risk of coronavirus in schools and daycares next year on a nationwide basis.”

The authors oversaw a national household survey in English and Spanish from July 5-10, asking parents to rate how likely they were to vaccinate themselves and their children — very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely or not at all likely.

 Parent age, marital status, education level and income were all associated with parents’ likelihood to vaccinate their children and themselves, as were race and ethnicity.

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