Covid-19 vaccines for younger children may soon be available, but only 3 in 10 parents said they would vaccinate their children as soon as the vaccine is authorized, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
How parents feel about vaccinating their children against Covid-19
For the poll, KFF surveyed 1,536 U.S. adults by telephone between Jan. 11 and 23.
In the poll, 33% of parents of children ages 5-11 said that their child has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine—double the number who said the same in November 2021. Another 13% of parents said they would get their children vaccinated "right away," while 19% of parents said they would "wait and see" before getting their child vaccinated.
Although a Covid-19 vaccine is not yet available for children under 5, nearly a third of parents with children in this age group said they would get their child vaccinated when a vaccine is authorized. Another 29% said they would "wait and see" how the vaccine affects other children first, while 12% said they would vaccinate their child "only if required," and around a quarter said they would "definitely not" vaccinate their child.
Pediatricians may be key in encouraging Covid-19 vaccination in children
Pfizer and BioNTech last week submitted an emergency use authorization of their Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years old to the FDA—and the vaccine could be available by the end of February or early March.
With the vaccine's potential authorization on the horizon, many parents are likely to rely on pediatricians' advice when making the decision whether to vaccinate their children. According to an August 2021 KFF Covid-19 poll, over 75% of parents trust their child's pediatrician or health care provider to share reliable Covid-19 and vaccine information.
Christian Cornejo, a pediatrician and EVP for medicine at Mary's Center, said he doesn't expect to see any greater vaccine hesitancy among parents of younger children since he is able to discuss Covid-19 vaccination during other routine childhood immunizations.
On the other hand, he said there are fewer opportunities to discuss Covid-19 vaccination with parents of children ages 5-11 since they do not have any routine immunizations until age 11. "It's a mixed bag," Cornejo said. "It depends on the day."
Overall, Cornejo said a third of the families he sees are ready to get their children vaccinated, while another third will likely be persuaded when he explains the science. The remaining third will be more cautious, he said.
Separately, Richard Besser, a pediatrician and the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said his recommendations for parents regarding Covid-19 vaccination for their young children will be informed by discussions from FDA and CDC's advisory committees.
"[W]hether I say to a parent there's pros and cons and I'm here to support you whichever way you want to go versus I really think your child should get [vaccinated]" depends on the strength of Pfizer-BioNTech's data and recommendations from FDA and CDC, he said.
"This is one where smart scientists are going to disagree with each other," Besser added. "This isn't a slam dunk and I think that we all benefit when data, science, evidence is openly debated." (Lagasse, Healthcare Finance News, 2/3; Hamel et al., Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/1; Sellers/Abutaleb, Washington Post, 2/2)