Less than two-thirds of parents and caregivers would vaccinate their children against COVID-19 once the vaccine is approved for pediatric use, according to a study released last week.
The study, conducted by the family advocacy group ParentsTogether, found that 70 percent of parents said they would “probably or definitely” get the COVID-19 vaccine or have already been vaccinated.
However, just 58 percent of those same parents and caregivers said they would vaccinate their children once state and federal public health experts determine the vaccine is safe for children under age 16.
The study of 971 ParentsTogether members also found discrepancies in vaccine hesitancy by race and income level.
According to ParentsTogether, just over 20 percent of Native American and Indigenous parents, 15 percent of white parents, 13 percent of Hispanic parents and less than 10 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander parents said they would not vaccinate their children.
Among Black parents, 26 percent of respondents said they would not vaccinate their children, the most of any racial demographic.
In addition, families and caregivers of color were 70 percent more likely than their white counterparts to say they’re “not sure” about their children getting vaccinated.
The study also found that 23 percent of families with an annual household income of less than $35,000 were hesitant about vaccinating their children while 8 percent of families with incomes over $75,000 said the same.
ParentsTogether co-founder and co-Director Bethany Robertson argued the results of the survey showed the need for informative community outreach about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine before the vaccines are approved for pediatric use, likely later this year.
“We have to make sure that the pandemic’s unequal impact on communities of color and low-income families doesn’t get repeated when it comes to vaccinating children against COVID-19,” Robertson said.
ParentsTogether’s study, released Wednesday, came the same week that the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that its two-dose vaccine was found to be safe and 100 percent effective among children ages 12 to 15.
The biotechnology company Moderna, which also developed a two-dose vaccine, is currently studying its efficacy among children younger than 16.
Pfizer officials hope to request emergency use authorization for the 12-15 age group in the coming weeks, with the goal of vaccinating the children in that group by the time school starts in the fall.
ParentsTogether’s study found that vaccine hesitancy was relatively soft among respondents, and due more to uncertainty and a lack of information than hardline opposition.
Responding parents and caregivers raised concerns about short- and long-term side effects as well as the speed of the COVID-19 vaccine’s development.
Moderna and Pfizer, who developed the first two vaccines available on the market, got them to the public in under a year due in part to advances in the use of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA.
Vaccine hesitancy was also significantly weaker among respondents who knew someone who had already been vaccinated. Roughly 44 percent of responding parents and caregivers said they would vaccinate their children and knew someone who had already been vaccinated.
Comparatively, just 22 percent of parents who did not know anyone else who has been vaccinated said they would definitely vaccinate their children.
“We need to start the conversation with parents now, to build trust and understanding about how getting kids vaccinated against COVID-19 protects their health, their family’s health, and the health of our communities,” Robertson said.