NYC poll indicates 2 in 5 parents still hesitant to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19

NEW YORK — Plenty of parents in New York City still have their doubts when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine and their families, according to a recent poll. Roughly four in 10 respondents say they’re still hesitant to vaccinate their young children for COVID-19.

Just two weeks after the FDA granted emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for school-aged children, researchers at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) surveyed 2,500 New Yorkers raising at least one child between the ages of five and 11. To start, 11 percent said their child was already vaccinated, and another 51% reported that they were very or somewhat likely to get their child vaccinated soon.

Meanwhile, eight percent weren’t sure one way or another, and 29 percent admitted they were not very likely or not at all likely to vaccinate their child. Just like a similar survey conducted by CUNY SPH last year, this work indicates a significant portion of NYC parents may never choose to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

So why are so many parents still doubtful about the COVID-19 vaccines? Most (89%) cited safety concerns, while others (78%) are more worried about effectiveness.

While these findings aren’t all that positive, study authors say there’s a silver lining. Over half of polled vaccine-hesitant parents mentioned their belief that children “don’t need” to be vaccinated for COVID-19. This suggests that if parents can be better educated on the dangers of leaving their kids unvaccinated, at least some of those vaccine hesitant moms and dads may change their minds.

Moreover, the poll notes vaccine-hesitant parents are less likely to be vaccinated themselves. These parents were also more likely to be from Staten Island, and more likely to have not voted at all or to have voted for the Republican candidate in the 2021 NYC mayoral election.

Another finding of particular interest is that kids living with vaccine-hesitant parents were no less likely to have received their routine vaccinations (required for school). That being said, they were more likely to have not received a flu vaccination. Study authors theorize this may indicate mandates could be an effective way to increase vaccinations.

“It’s been six months since the CDC recommended use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11 year olds but currently only 40 percent of kids have been fully vaccinated in NYC,” says Assistant Professor Chloe Teasdale in a university release. “We need to do a lot more to get all school-aged kids vaccinated in order to protect them from infection and prevent severe disease. We hope that our findings with contribute to those efforts.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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John Anderer

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