Last week, the CDC moved to endorse the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. With the rollout now underway – and more than 360,000 shots delivered to the first of 28 million eligible children – CivicScience checked in on where parents currently stand and what we can expect to see in the months ahead.

Surveying more than 1,090 U.S. parents of children aged 5 to 11 suggests that hesitancy to vaccinate children for COVID-19 is strong at this time. The majority (54%) are not planning to have their kids vaccinated, while 10% are unsure if they will. 

On the other hand, 37% of parents report they have already vaccinated their children or are planning on it (results which follow in-line with expectations from a September survey).

Looking at the same numbers through a simplified lens clearly shows that parents are more unfavorable than favorable to the prospect of vaccinating their 5- to 11-year-olds.

Although being vaccinated for COVID-19 themselves, many vaccinated parents are not rushing to have their children vaccinated. The data reveal that close to one-third (31%) of parents who have received the vaccine will not vaccinate their children, while 11% remain on the fence. Together, more than 40% of parents who are vaccinated or who plan to get vaccinated have reservations about giving the vaccine to their kids.

As expected, most (87%) unvaccinated adults are not planning to have their children vaccinated. 

Differences Across Demographics

Vaccination rate and intent vary by both region and urbanicity, averaging significantly higher among parents who live in the Northeast and slightly higher among city-dwelling parents. Nearly half of respondents in the Northeast are favorable to vaccinating their young children, which is nearly 44% higher than other regions.

Behind Parents’ Hesitancy

The survey looked at concerns that parents have in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine for young children. While the CDC maintains the vaccine is safe and has currently not established otherwise, an overwhelming percentage of parents expressed concern surrounding testing of the vaccine – 70% percent are concerned that testing is insufficient.

Secondarily, close to half (48%) of parents cite possible long-term health consequences as an area of concern. That’s followed by concerns over potential side effects and newness of the vaccine.

Finally, parents are least worried about vaccine effectiveness, with just 19% citing concern.

While it’s still early on, the survey results help to anticipate expectations as the vaccine rollout progresses. As of now, it appears that parents need greater confirmation of the vaccine’s safety in order to tip the scale in favor of vaccination. We’ll be watching this topic closely in the months ahead.