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Many parents of children between 5-11 years old reluctant to get kids vaccinated, survey says

A 15-year-old participating in Moderna's teen COVID-19 vaccine trial.BRANDON THIBODEAUX/NYT

With the CDC expected to rule this week on whether to approve COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, many parents of kids in that age group are signaling reluctance to get their youngsters inoculated against the virus, according to national polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The foundation said in a statement last week that its polling shows “about one-third of parents (34%) with children in the 5-11 age group are eager to get them vaccinated as soon as their kids are eligible (with some parents more likely to say they want to get their children vaccinated right away, including those who are older, have college degrees, and have been vaccinated themselves).”

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As of September 2021, the foundation said, “a majority of parents reported being either unsure about vaccinating their children in this age group (32% say they will wait and see) or say they will not get them vaccinated or only do so if required (31%). These shares will likely decline once the vaccines are approved for younger children and there is increased outreach and education.”

The foundation added that as of Oct. 21, CDC data nationwide showed 63 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds had received at least one vaccine dose, as had 56 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds, compared to 79 percent of those 18 and older.

In addition, the foundation said parental consent will be a “major factor” in getting the 5 to 11 cohort vaccinated.

“Therefore, outreach and education to parents/caregivers will be important to achieving high vaccination rates in younger children, and pediatricians will play an especially important role in this regard,” the foundation said.

Public health experts have sounded a similar note on Twitter in recent days, including Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and professor at Brown University who also directs the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health.

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“Here’s the to-do: when you get your child vaccinated, talk about it,” Ranney tweeted Oct. 28. “Post about it. Share how easy & safe & painless it was. Share your ‘why’ - your kid, your parents, your community. Make it normal.”

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted on Halloween morning that he has full confidence in the vaccines’ ability to protect young children.

“COVID vaccine is like other vaccines,” Jha tweeted. “Except COVID vaccines have been more closely studied than any vaccine ever They’ve been given to 3.8 Billion people including millions of kids. And vaccines save lives. As will this vaccine. Which is why I’m getting my kid vaccinated.”

Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, a family physician who teaches at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, tweeted Sunday that hundreds of children have died from the virus, making it vitally important for youths to get the shot.

“765 children have died from COVID, 8600 hospitalized & 5200 had multisystem inflammatory syndrome post-COVID,” Bhuyan tweeted. “Let’s change the narrative that the COVID vaccine in children is to protect adults - the vaccine is intended to protect *children themselves* from a preventable illness.”

The FDA on Friday granted emergency authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Discussion about the hot-button topic’s expected to resume Tuesday when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the CDC, will meet to recommend how to use the vaccine.

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The Globe reported last month that Massachusetts expects its initial order of 360,000 doses of pediatric vaccines to be available by Nov. 5.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.