Most parents hesitant on COVID vaccine for kids under 5: poll

In this stock photo, Christina Yep holds daughter Ariel Yep, 5, as she receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

AP

Most parents of children under the age of 5 in the U.S. say they are hesitant to vaccinate their child against COVID-19 — if and when a vaccine is authorized for that age group, a new poll has found.

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 5 and older. Meanwhile, the Moderna shot is authorized for individuals 18 years old and older. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been limited to “certain individuals” 18 and older by the Food and Drug Administration on May 5, McClatchy News reported.

About one in five parents, 18%, would get their young child vaccinated “right away” if that becomes an option, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor survey published on May 4.

In comparison, 38% of parents said they would “wait and see” before having their child get the shot, the poll found.

“Only if required,” 11% of parents answered, according to the survey. “Definitely not,” the remaining 27% of parents said.

Why most are hesitant

“Just over half of parents of children in this age range say they do not have enough information about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness for children under age 5,” the vaccine monitor survey noted.

The parents’ answers were mixed when asked whether the FDA’s “delay” in authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 made them more or less confident about the shot’s safety.

A total of 22% of parents said the delay made them “more confident” while 13% of parents said they felt “less confident” by the decision being pushed back, according to the poll.

A majority 64% said it “has not changed” their confidence while 1% said they “don’t know,” in the survey.

The survey was conducted between April 13-26 and included the answers of 1,889 U.S. adults surveyed with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Of those interviewed, 181 were parents of a child under 5.

COVID shots and kids

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor survey was published nearly a week after Moderna asked the FDA to give emergency use authorization to its COVID-19 vaccine for young children, ages 6 months to 5-years-old.

The company’s study of the vaccine’s effectiveness in this age groupshowed a “two-dose primary series” produced a “robust neutralizing antibody response” and “a favorable safety profile,” according to a news release.

In mid-April, Pfizer announced it planned to submit a request to the FDA to have a booster shot authorized for healthy children ages 5 to 11, McClatchy News reported. Currently, a third dose of Pfizer is authorized for immunocompromised children in that age group.

Pfizer officially submitted the request on April 26 after gathering clinical trial data that “demonstrated a strong immune response in this age group following a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine with no new safety signals,” a news release said.

Just four in 10 of parents, 39%, of children 5 to 11 that are eligible for Pfizer’s vaccine said that their child has been vaccinated already, according to the vaccine monitor survey.

More than half of parents of 12 to 17-year-olds, 56%, said their child is vaccinated against the coronavirus, the poll found.

In the U.S., virus cases and hospitalizations have been on the rise as of late April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases rose 25.2% as of April 27 compared to the prior week’s average. Hospitalizations trended upwards by 18.5% as of April 26 compared to the week before.

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Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.