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Tipsheet

New Poll Shows Parents Divided Over COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 and Under

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll published Tuesday shows that parents are divided when it comes to vaccinating children under the age of 5. This poll comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) consideration of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech Wuhan coronavirus vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old. 

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As I covered this week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted a request to the FDA for EUA approval of their COVID-19 vaccine for young children. However, trials in December showed that the levels of protection provided by the vaccine in 2 to 5 year olds fell shorter than expected. Once this was announced, the companies amended their trials to include a third dose of the vaccine. 

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that “data on a third show will not be available until at least late March. Once that information is submitted, regulators are expected to authorize a third dose of the pediatric vaccine.”

In the KKF poll findings, parents appear divided on whether or not they will get their young children vaccinated once they are able to do so.

“While there is not yet a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in children under the age of five, 31% of parents of children in this age range say they’ll get their child vaccinated right away when a vaccine  is authorized, up from 20% last July. Another 29% say they will 'wait and see' before getting their child under 5 vaccinated, down from 40% in July. Around one in ten parents say they’ll vaccinate their child under five 'only if required' (12%), while a quarter (26%) say they will 'definitely not' vaccinate their young child.”

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In the findings, 79 percent of parents said that the highly-transmissible Omicron variant does not make a difference in the likelihood of vaccinating their child. Additionally, 29 percent of vaccinated parents said they are “very worried” that their child will become “seriously sick” from COVID-19, while an additional 29 percent of vaccinated parents said they are “somewhat worried” about their child becoming “seriously sick” from COVID-19. 

Many parents noted that their schooling has been disrupted for their children due to COVID-19. This includes children needing to quarantine and take part in online learning after being exposed to the virus at school or parents keeping their children home because they are afraid of the risk.

“Many parents of school-aged children say their child has experienced some disruption in their schooling during January, including having to quarantine, having the school shut down or move to online learning, or parents choosing to keep their child home due to COVID-19 concerns.

Since returning to school in January, a quarter of parents (27%) report that their child has had to quarantine at home because they tested positive or were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Another one in five say their child’s school shut down in-person classes or switched to virtual learning because of COVID-19, and 14% say they’ve kept their child home from school because they were worried about their risk of getting COVID-19. Overall, 41% of parents say at least one of these disruptions has happened in January.”

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In a report published by Stat News, which is produced by The Boston Globe, it noted that “the Food and Drug Administration’s willingness to consider authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children under the age of 5 — without evidence yet that it would be protective — is raising concerns among some vaccine experts who fear the plan could backfire and undermine vaccine uptake in this group.”

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