Parents split on COVID-19 for children under 11, survey says

Children between 3 and 11 makeup almost a fifth of the nation's population and may be an important part of the nation's efforts to achieve herd immunity. However, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital most parents are split on whether to give the COVID-19 vaccine to their children.

In a survey published Monday by the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 49% of parents surveyed say it's likely they will get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. 51% say it's unlikely, even if approved by the FDA.

While they're split, parents agree that the recommendation of their child's health provider will influence their decision of whether to get the vaccine or not. However, 70% of those surveyed have not yet had the discussion of vaccinations with their child's doctors.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted parents to think about their child’s health and safety in new ways, from mask-wearing to attending in-person events. As COVID vaccine authorizations expand to younger age groups, parents are also considering whether and when their child should get vaccinated," said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark, M.P.H. "As children prepare to return to school, our poll provides insight into parents’ current stance on vaccinating kids and what factors into their decision making."

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The report was based on a survey of 2,019 parents with at least one child between 3 and 18 years old and was conducted in June.

Among parents with children between 12 and 18 years, 39% say their child had received the vaccine and 21% say their child will likely get it - while 40% say it's unlikely.

Families with lower incomes are less likely to get the vaccine (38% likely to get the vaccine) than higher incomes (60%).

Aside from discussing the vaccine with their doctors, other factors for not getting the vaccine include side effects, testing in the child's age group, vaccine efficacy, and parents' own research.

Clark urged parents to discuss the questions and concerns with a doctor.

"Typically, parents look to their child’s regular healthcare provider for information and guidance on vaccines for their child. But our report suggests that half of parents of children 12-18 years, for whom the COVID vaccine is already recommended and available, have not discussed it with their child’s provider," Clark said. "These discussions also aren’t taking place among families of younger children, who are expected to be eligible for the COVID vaccine in the coming months."

In 2020, of the nation's nearly 30 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, 2 million were children. While most children and teens present mild COVID-19 symptoms, some have persistent symptoms months after recovery - known as long-haul COVID - or develop a rare but serious COVID-linked condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.