- A study published this month found that 20% of American parents are hesitant about vaccinating their children.
- Parents who were hesitant were less likely to vaccinate their children against the flu.
- The findings could have implications for the COVID-19 vaccine, which many Americans have shown apprehension about, despite assurances that it will be safe.
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At least 20% of American parents are hesitant to give their children vaccines, something that could have a wide-ranging impact as the country prepares to begin vaccinating people against COVID-19.
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that 20% of parents identified as “vaccine hesitant” in 2019. That’s down from 26% in 2018. Black parents were nearly 12% more likely than others to feel hesitant about vaccinating their kids.
The data indicated that many parents were concerned because of fear about long-term effects of vaccines. Despite the fact that vaccine injuries are very rare, 14% of respondents said that they knew someone who had suffered a long-term serious side effect from a vaccine, and 22% of parents said they worried about long-term side effects.
Parent’s attitude toward vaccines has a large impact on whether or not their children receive immunizations. The study found that just 41% of kids with vaccine-hesitant parents received flu vaccinations, compared with 67% of kids whose parents did not have hesitations about vaccines.
Understanding parent’s concerns about vaccines can help researchers and public health officials counteract vaccine hesitancy, the study authors wrote.
Most parents reported trusting their doctor’s advice about vaccines. Medical associations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that nearly all children follow a typical vaccine schedule. However, 14% of parents in the study said that their doctor was not their most trusted source of information on vaccines.
It’s unclear how many American parents will be receptive to giving their children a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available. Overall, Americans have expressed some hesitation about taking a vaccine that was developed so quickly, despite assurances from scientists that it will be safe, and recent indications that vaccines will be highly effective against the virus.
Drug companies have begun including children in coronavirus vaccine trials, in hopes of demonstrating that the vaccine is safe and effective in kids. Last month, 16-year-old Katelyn Evans became one of the youngest people to get a vaccine so far. Her mother, Laurie, acknowledged the unknown in an interview with Time, but said ultimately she felt the vaccine would protect Katelyn.
“I know from the response we’ve gotten that there are some people out there who don’t think this is the smartest thing for us to have done. But I’m more afraid of COVID than the vaccine.”