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Parents express low confidence in pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

Only one-fifth of parents in a recent survey indicated intentions of getting their child the vaccine within 3 months of eligibility.

Only a minority of parents with children aged 6 months to 4 years plan to get their children vaccinated from COVID-19 within their first few months of eligibility. Many others have concerns about the vaccine for children of this age group, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

These findings are from a cross-sectional study of 2031 adults in the United States with children who fall under the age range of 6 months to 4 years. Of these participants, almost half indicated intention of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19, but only one-fifth stated a plan to do so within 3 months after their children are eligible.

To enter the survey, parents had to live in the United States, be regularly responsible for a child aged 6 months 4 years living with them, identify as Black, Hispanic, or White, and show that they would answer each question to the best of their abilities. The child age group of these recipients was split evenly between children aged 6 to 23 months and those aged 2 to 4 years, and the gender of the respondents was split closely between male and female.

Questions on the survey included, “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine for your [age] child, if they become eligible for vaccination?” and “How long do you think you will wait before getting a COVID-19 vaccine for your [age] child if they became eligible for vaccination?” Parents who said they would “definitely not” get their child the vaccine were then asked to complete a concerns measure. In this measure, they discussed their concerns, facilitators, and preferred vaccination locations.

Those with intentions to get the vaccine for their children were more often male, Hispanic, more education, and were vaccinated themselves. Nearly 20%of the respondents said they would vaccinate their children within 3 months of the child’s eligibility, while 47.3% said they would wait longer and 33.7% did not have a plan for when they would get their child vaccinated.

The most common facilitator for those who did not plan to get the vaccine for their child was the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in children of this age group. Following this, full US Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine and an increase in the severity of COVID-19 cases were mentioned. About two-thirds of respondents expressed comfort in getting their child vaccinated at their regular doctor or clinic.

Most respondents indicated concerns over the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The investigators state that these concerns, “highlights that widespread hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccination for children younger than 5 years exists, even among those who are inclined to vaccinate their child in this age group.”They also suggest increased efforts to improve parents’ confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years.

Reference

Scherer AM, Gidengil CA, Gedlinske AM, et al. COVID-19 vaccination intentions, concerns, and facilitators among us parents of children ages 6 months through 4 years. JAMANetw Open. 2022;5(8):e2227437. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.27437