Washington, DC, October 14, 2021 — As the American public awaits potential FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 this fall, a new Ipsos poll finds that two-thirds of parents with a child in that age group say they are likely to get their child vaccinated when it is approved. Sixty percent of parents of school-aged children (ages 5-18) support schools requiring eligible children to get a vaccine to attend school in person.
However, for parents of 5-18-year-olds, their likelihood to vaccinate their child, and their support for vaccine requirements, depends heavily on their own personal vaccination status. Parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their child under 12, or have not vaccinated their child older than 12, are more likely to be unvaccinated themselves. Among unvaccinated parents, the biggest factor in their decision not to get vaccinated is a feeling that the vaccines were developed too quickly and concern about potential side effects – mirroring reasons why hesitant parents do not plan to vaccinate their children at this time.
A majority of parents of school-aged children (5-18 years old) are at least somewhat worried their child could get COVID-19. Concerns vary based on the parent’s vaccination status, as well as the age of the child.
- Three-quarters of parents are at least somewhat worried that their child could get COVID-19.
- Parents who are vaccinated themselves are more concerned than those who are not: 42% of vaccinated parents say they are “very worried” their child could get COVID-19, compared to 29% of unvaccinated parents.
- Concerns are also higher among parents with a younger child. Parents answering the survey on behalf of their 5-11-year-old are more worried than those with a 16-18-year-old (42% and 31% very worried, respectively).
- However, even among the 12-18 age group, vaccination status remains the biggest driver. Parents of kids age 12+ who have a vaccinated child still report higher levels of concern than those whose child is not yet vaccinated (37% and 29% very worried, respectively).
For unvaccinated parents, the reasons not to vaccinate – both themselves and their child – are fairly consistent and center around side effects and the speed of the vaccine’s development.
- Among unvaccinated parents of 5-18-year-olds, the biggest factor in their decision not to get vaccinated is a feeling that the vaccines were developed too quickly (63% say it impacted their decision “a lot”), followed by concern about potential side effects (57%), and wanting to wait for more information (48%).
- These reasons mirror those given for why they have not, or do not plan to, vaccinate their child.
- For parents of children ages 6-11, the main reason why they are not likely to get their child vaccinated once a vaccine is available is concern over the potential side effects (63%), followed by the long term risks it may cause to their child’s health and/or fertility (57%).
- Similarly, parents of 12-18-year-olds who have not yet gotten their child vaccinated against COVID-19 are also most concerned about the side effects (56%) and the long-term risks (51%), but also feel that the vaccines were developed too quickly (52%).
- When asked to choose a list of reasons that could change their mind on vaccinating their child, a plurality of parents of unvaccinated children ages 12-18 say none of the factors given would change their mind (40%). The top reasons that may impact their decision are a requirement by their child’s school (25%) full FDA approval (23%), or a person in the household being high-risk (23%).
Almost all parents who have been vaccinated (78%), support requiring eligible children to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school in person.
- Support is even stronger among parents of 12-18-year-olds who have already gotten their children vaccinated ( 86%).
- Older parents (those 55+) are also more likely than younger parents (51% of those 18-34 and 60% of those 35-54) to support a vaccine requirement for in-person schooling.
- Republican parents (56%) are more likely to oppose requiring vaccines for children in school, followed by independents (51%), while only 23% of Democratic parents do so.
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 22-28, 2021 on behalf of the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project and the National Association of School Nurses. For this survey, a sample of 1,014 Americans age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Americans been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including but not limited to coverage error and measurement error.
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