Survey Shows Most Parents Are Still Worried About COVID Vaccine Safety For Kids

by Christina Marfice

A new survey shows that the majority of parents still have concerns about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is actually safe for their kids

In the U.S., COVID-19 vaccines are now available for anyone 5 or older. Getting as many people as possible vaccinated is a key part of ending the pandemic. But a new survey shows that most parents still have some hesitation when it comes to getting their kids vaccinated.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey, which was conducted for two weeks in mid-November among a nationwide sample of parents with children under age 18, showed that only about half of parents are confident that the COVID vaccine is safe for adolescents, while just 44 percent say it’s safe for younger kids. That compares to 64 percent who believe the vaccine is safe for adults.

The survey showed that just about half of kids ages 12-17 have received the vaccine, a number which is about the same as it was earlier in the fall. Among younger kids ages 5-11, only 29 percent have already received a shot. Another third of parents with kids in this age group said they want to “wait and see” before having their kids vaccinated, and about 3 in 10 parents of young kids said they will “definitely not” get the shot for their children.

According to the survey, misinformation and lack of information are major drivers for the slow vaccine uptake for kids. About six in 10 parents say they just don’t feel that they have enough information yet about the effectiveness, side effects, and safety of the COVID vaccine for children. Among parents who haven’t had their kids vaccinated yet, lack of information was the top reason they said they’re waiting.

“Generally what we’ve seen throughout the years is that parents tend to be more careful with their kids than themselves,” Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious disease, told CNN. “It’s one of those things that predates the pandemic. When you ask parents about their concerns, safety is almost always at the top, and they frequently say they don’t have enough information.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data that shows that severe side effects are rare for kids who receive the COVID vaccine, but the KFF survey showed that public trust in the CDC fell from 66 percent in July to 57 percent in November. More than 75 percent of parents say they trust their child’s pediatrician, but less than half reported having talked to their pediatrician about getting the COVID shot for their child.