Rockville, Md. – A new study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that parents’ attitudes toward vaccinating children younger than five have shifted over time, initially rising and then dropping, but their overall intent was higher than other national published rates. The study of the Pediatric Research Observing Trends and Exposures in COVID-19 Timelines (PROTECT) cohort in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Utah is the first study over time of parent perceptions toward the COVID-19 vaccine in those young children. This study uses data that was collected from July 2021 to May 2022. Seven Abt Associates staffers were among the report’s authors.
Initially, of the 393 parents participating, 64 percent indicated they were likely to vaccinate their child younger than five, while 19 percent were unsure, and 10 percent were unlikely. Three months after enrollment, the odds of parents opting to vaccinate dropped 20 percent, while parents were 39 percent less likely to consider the vaccine effective and 35 percent were less likely to consider it safe. Parents also were 51 percent less likely to trust the government. That was true even though evidence shows the vaccines are both safe and effective among children.
Six months after enrollment, unadjusted models showed parents’ intent to vaccinate and perception of safety increased, but not after adjusting for such factors as testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 before the survey’s completion, age, sex, race, ethnicity, health insurance, and site.
Multiple factors could have produced the drop-in vaccination support. They include conflicting news reports of vaccine availability for this age group; positive SARS-CoV-2 test results during the observation period, which could reduce parents’ perceived need for vaccination; and news of lower estimates of vaccine effectiveness for older children at the beginning of the omicron surge.
“We need to continue to understand the factors that influence parents' hesitancy to have their children younger than five vaccinated against COVID-19," says Gabriella Newes-Adeyi, Abt’s Principal Investigator for the study. “Vaccines won’t stop infections, but they’re the best protection we have against serious illness.”
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