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The intention to vaccinate children against COVID-19 was lower among vaccine-hesitant parents when compared with parents who were willing to or had already received the COVID vaccine, a new survey finds.
“Parental vaccine hesitancy is a major issue for schools resuming in-person instruction, potentially requiring regular testing, strict mask wearing, and physical distancing for safe operation,” wrote lead author Madhura S. Rane, PhD, from the City University of New York in New York City, and colleagues in their paper, published online in JAMA Pediatrics.
The survey was conducted in June 2021 of 1,162 parents with children ranging in age from 2 to 17 years. The majority of parents (74.4%) were already vaccinated/vaccine-willing ,while 25.6% were vaccine hesitant. The study cohort, including both 1,652 children and their parents, was part of the nationwide CHASING COVID.
Vaccinated parents overall were more willing to vaccinate or had already vaccinated their eligible children when compared with vaccine-hesitant parents: 64.9% vs. 8.3% for children 2-4 years of age; 77.6% vs. 12.1% for children 5-11 years of age; 81.3% vs. 13.9% for children 12-15 years of age; and 86.4% vs. 12.7% for children 16-17 years of age; P < .001.
The researchers found greater hesitancy among Black and Hispanic parents, compared with parents who were non-Hispanic White, women, younger, and did not have a college education. Parents of children who were currently attending school remotely or only partially, were found to be more willing to vaccinate their children when compared to parents of children who were attending school fully in person.
The authors also found that parents who knew someone who had died of COVID-19 or had experienced a prior COVID-19 infection, were more willing to vaccinate their children.
Hesitance in Vaccinated Parents
Interestingly, 10% of COVID-vaccinated parents said they were still hesitant to vaccinate their kids because of concern for long-term adverse effects of the vaccine.
“These data point out that vaccine concerns may exist even among vaccinated or vaccine-favorable parents, so we should ask any parent who has not vaccinated their child whether we can discuss their concerns and perhaps move their opinions,” said William T. Basco Jr, MD, MS, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and director of the division of general pediatrics.
In an interview, when asked whether recent approval of the vaccine for children aged 5-11 will likely aid in overcoming parental hesitancy, Basco replied: “Absolutely. As more children get the vaccine and people know a neighbor or nephew or cousin, etc., who received the vaccine and did fine, it will engender greater comfort and allow parents to feel better about having their own child receive the vaccine.”
Advice for Clinicians From Outside Expert
“We can always start by asking parents if we can help them understand the vaccine and the need for it. The tidal wave of disinformation is huge, but we can, on a daily basis, offer to help families navigate this decision,” concluded Basco, who was not involved with the new paper.
Funding for this study was provided through grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the CUNY Institute of Implementation Science in Population Health, and the COVID-19 Grant Program of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The authors and Basco have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.