Report roundup: Parent-provider conversations key to kids’ COVID vaccination

Vaccines against COVID-19 have been authorized and recommended for use in children 12 and older; testing is underway for younger children. Our July Mott Poll asked parents of children 3-18 years about their COVID vaccine decisions. Conversations about COVID vaccine continue as the US prepares for expanded authorizations for use in younger children. Here’s a look at what parents, media, and health professionals are saying.

Talk to child’s doctor

Among Mott Poll parents of children 3-18 who have not gotten a COVID vaccine, 3 in 4 say the recommendation of their child’s healthcare provider will be important to their COVID vaccine decision. However, most parents say they have not discussed COVID vaccine with their child’s doctor. AAP News writer Trisha Korioth emphasized the importance of these conversations in boosting COVID-19 vaccinations, especially when it comes to wading through all of the information available online. “Discussion with their child’s health care provider can be key for parents to get help sorting through the various data sources so they can make an informed choice that is right for their child and their family,” said Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark. Korioth also notes that providers can explain the difference between vaccine side effects and complications, as well as explain how vaccines are authorized for public use.

Get the right information

Parents in the Mott Poll cite a variety of factors that are very important to their decision on whether to vaccinate their child, including vaccine side effects, testing in their child’s age group, and parents’ own research. CNN reporter Sarah Molano talked with Sarah Clark about parent concerns and how talking with your child’s healthcare provider can help in the decision-making process. “There is so much information that has come out about the Covid vaccine, and it’s coming fast, it’s coming from a lot of different sources, and it feels overwhelming,” said Clark. “You can see why people might feel worried, a little confused and uncertain about what really is the best thing to do.” The best way to help parents, Clark said, is to keep lines of communication open. “They (pediatricians) need to make sure that families know the door is open to conversation. I think it’s unreasonable to expect parents to do this on their own.”

Have the conversations early

Among Mott Poll parents of children 3-11, 70% have not talked with their child’s provider about COVID vaccine, and 51% say it is unlikely their child will get a COVID vaccine once it is approved for their age group. Even though the vaccine is not yet approved for this age group, early conversations are key. As Clark notes in a Michigan Health Blog post, “It’s important that parents and providers don’t wait for full COVID vaccine approval to begin discussions about vaccination.”

“Our poll suggests parents are already forming opinions, and it’s essential that their decision-making process include accurate information, as well as a professional recommendation from the child’s healthcare provider.”

For more coverage of our July report, check out these articles from HealthDay, Bridge Magazine, and WDIV-Detroit.

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