Few parents intend to have their very young children vaccinated against Covid

Barely a month after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid-19 vaccines for very young children, the prognosis that many of them will actually get vaccinated looks grim, according to a new parent survey released. the Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundationwho has monitored attitudes toward vaccines throughout the pandemic.

A majority of parents surveyed said they viewed the vaccine as a greater risk to their children than the coronavirus itself.

For children in the age group, 6 months to 4 years, parental apprehension has so far resulted in the administration of barely a trickle of Covid vaccines. Since June 18, when they became eligible, only 2.8% of these children had received injections, the foundation recently found in a separate analysis of federal vaccine data. By comparison, 18.5% of children aged 5 to 11, eligible for Covid vaccines since October, had been vaccinated at a similar point in their vaccine rollout.

The new survey found that 43% of parents of children under 5 said they would “definitely” not get them vaccinated. About 27% said they would “wait and see”, while 13% said they would have their children vaccinated “only if necessary”. Even some parents themselves who had been vaccinated against Covid said they would not give permission for their youngest children.

The new analysis of parents’ views comes as vaccination of older children slows significantly. To date, only 40% of children aged 5 to 11 have been vaccinated. In the new survey, 37% of parents said they would “definitely” not get a Covid vaccine for their child in this age group.

Parents’ main concerns were about the vaccine’s potential side effects, its relative novelty, and what they felt was a lack of sufficient research. Many parents have said they are ready to let their children take the risk of contracting Covid rather than getting vaccinated to prevent it.

Childhood vaccination experts said they viewed parental hesitancy with concern, at a time when Covid cases were soaring again and expected to worsen during the cold weather months, and as the possibility potentially more dangerous novel coronavirus variants remains.

Although a large majority of children with Covid recover easily, “some children get very, very sick from it and some die,” said Patricia A. Stinchfield, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. She did not participate in the Kaiser study.

How a child will fare with Covid is unpredictable, added Ms. Stinchfield, a nurse practitioner who coordinated vaccine administration for Children’s Minnesota, a children’s hospital system in St. Paul and Minneapolis. “We don’t have a marker for that,” she said. “Half of children who contract severe Covid are healthy children with no underlying conditions. So the idea of ​​saying ‘I’m going to skip this vaccine for my child, we’re not worried about the Covid’, it’s really taking a risk.”

Dr. Jason V. Terk, a pediatrician in Keller, Texas, acknowledged “the reality” that the extremely contagious sub-variant of Omicron BA.5 “evades both natural immunity and vaccine immunity much more than other variants”. Still, he said, “the vaccine is the best way to protect young children against the occasions when Covid-19 causes more severe disease.”

This latest report is based on a July 7-17 online and telephone survey of 1,847 adults, 471 of whom had a child under the age of 5. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample, and plus or minus 8 percentage points for parents with a child under age 5.

Unsurprisingly, the partisan divide was particularly stark around childhood vaccinations, with Republican parents three times more likely than Democratic parents to say they “definitely won’t” get their child vaccinated.

A majority of parents said they found the federal government’s vaccine information for their children confusing. Yet 70% said they had not yet discussed injections with a pediatrician. Only 27% of parents considering the vaccine said they would make an appointment to have this conversation.

“We would see much higher uptake across all ages if every child had a visit with a trusted pediatrician or family physician who recommended the vaccine and had it in stock to administer,” said Dr Sean T. O’Leary, a Colorado-based pediatrician who is chair of the committee on infectious diseases at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I recognize that not every child in America has a medical home,” he added, “but there are public health departments, federal health clinics, and rural health centers across the states. States that are trying to meet those needs.”

Parents who might be predisposed to their children getting the Covid shot said lack of access was a significant barrier, a concern expressed by more black and Hispanic parents than white parents. About 44% of black parents worried about having to take time off work to get their children vaccinated or to care for them if the children had side effects. Among Hispanic parents of young children, 45% said they were worried about finding a trusted place to shoot, and about a third were worried about having to pay a fee.

Ms Stinchfield said she understood their concerns: her own daughter had to take time off work to have Ms Stinchfield’s grandchildren, aged 1 and 3, vaccinated. Mrs Stinchfield went with them to a clinic. “The message to clinics is to make the vaccine for children available in the evenings and on weekends,” she said.

Did his grandchildren have any side effects? No, Mrs. Stinchfield said with a chuckle. “They felt so good that we put them in a little kiddie pool,” she said. “And now my granddaughter has a tan line from the bandage from the bullet on her leg.”

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