In the United States, mothers, parents with more education and those who have been vaccinated themselves are more likely to say they will get a COVID vaccine for their children, according to late October data from the COVID Behaviors Dashboard, developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.
With COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 rolling out in the United States this month – and vaccines for kids ages 12-17 approved since May – the dashboard shows what American parents are saying about whether they would get their kids vaccinated and why. There is variation in responses across education levels and genders, as well as state-to-state variability.
Overall, 86.7 percent of vaccinated parents surveyed between Oct. 15 and Oct. 31 said they would definitely or probably get vaccines for their children, while 12 percent said they would not vaccinate their children even though they are vaccinated themselves. These numbers likely favor vaccination, as the survey on which the dashboard is based is conducted over Facebook and reports a higher rate of vaccination than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are beginning to understand which parents are and are not planning to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, now that a larger swath of the population is eligible to receive the vaccines,” says Susan Krenn, CCP’s executive director. “Now, our goal is to help parents choose vaccinations for their kids in order to protect them.”
According to the CDC, 12.4 million children ages 12-17 have been fully vaccinated against COVIID-19, which is half of the children in that age range. In the first week of availability for the 5-11 age group, nearly one million of these children nationwide got a first dose. In the first two weeks of availability in Maryland, for example, 11 percent of those who are ages 5 to 11 were vaccinated.
The dashboard data for the late October reporting period include responses from nearly 148,000 parents in the United States.
- Education matters: 46.4 percent of parents with a high school diploma or some college say they will definitely get their children vaccinated, while 56.4 percent of parents who have a college degree say they will definitely vaccinate their kids – that’s a ten percentage point difference.
- Gender roles: Men were more likely than women to report that they would definitely not get their children vaccinated, 26.8 and 17.6 percent, respectively.
- Older parents: Child vaccine acceptance increases with the age of parents. For example, 70 percent of parents ages 45-54 reported they would probably or definitely get their child vaccinated, while this percentage dropped to 67.8 percent for parents 35-44 and to 57.2 percent for parents 25-34.
The most striking disparities are at the state level. In Wyoming, where 45.7 percent of people are fully vaccinated, the dashboard data show that 45.5 percent of parents intend to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. In North Dakota, where 48 percent of people are fully vaccinated, just 54 percent of parents say they will vaccinate their kids.
At the other end of the spectrum, in Maryland, where two-thirds of people are fully vaccinated, 80 percent of parents will choose vaccination for their children. In Massachusetts, where 70 percent of people are fully vaccinated, almost 80 percent of parents say they will vaccinate their kids.
While a lot of people in certain demographic groups were first in line for COVID-19 vaccines for themselves and their children, not everyone is absorbing the messages that these vaccines are safe and effective – and need to be distributed widely in order end this pandemic.
“The data tells us which people still need to hear this information and how it should be tailored to different sub-groups of our country,” says CCP’s Dominick Shattuck, PhD, one of the principal investigators on the dashboard project. “We need to create the kind of messages that inspire action and put them put in the hands of trusted messengers – be it a religious leader or healthcare professional or other influential people in someone’s life – who can deliver them with the biggest impact.”
The interactive dashboard is the product of a collaboration among CCP, the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and Facebook. The data are generated from the COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey, which is administered in the United States by the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon University and in other countries by the University of Maryland Social Data Science Center.
The survey is believed to be the world’s largest daily assessments of global COVID knowledge, attitudes and practices. Carnegie Mellon and the University of Maryland collect the survey data from a random sample of Facebook users and CCP analyzes the responses. Since May 20, the survey has collected responses from nearly 19 million people in 228 countries.