A Verywell Report: How Parents Feel About COVID Vaccines for Kids

In a survey of 2,000 Americans, Verywell found parents largely support vaccines.

illustration.

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Key Themes From Our Survey

  • Vaccines for children aged 5-11 have arrived, and parents are ready to get their kids vaccinated.
  • The rollout will look a little differently for kids than it did for adults—shots will mainly be available at pediatrician offices and schools.
  • Parents largely expect schools to eventually mandate COVID-19 vaccination.

Many Americans felt that a “return to normal” was imminent in the spring. But since then, the pandemic has stagnated.

The number of people who say they won't get vaccinated in Verywell Health’s latest vaccine sentiment survey will not budge—16% of respondents remain against getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This proportion hasn’t changed meaningfully in four months.

The data presented in this article is from 17 surveys of 2,000 Americans asked about their thoughts and feelings towards getting the COVID-19 vaccines. We collected the latest data for the week ending on November 3. Our survey sample highlighted four types of respondents based on their answer to whether or not they’d get an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine if it were free and available: 

  • Acceptors: Those who would agree to be vaccinated but have not yet
  • Rejectors: Those who would not agree to take a vaccine
  • Undecideds: Those who don’t know if they would take a vaccine
  • Vaccinated: Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination

But there's a new reason for optimism: Millions of American kids are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 and up. With it comes a renewed hope of reaching herd immunity.

Our survey found that parents are welcoming this new development.

A Majority of Parents Want to Get Their Kids Vaccinated

More than half (60%) of parents in our survey want to get their kids vaccinated—they already have or plan to. But, 27% say they are not planning to get their kids vaccinated, and 11% are on the fence. 

Many parents already know other families with vaccinated children, likely those with kids 12 and up who have been eligible for a shot since May. A little more than half (51%) of parents in our survey say they know others with vaccinated children, and about three-quarters expect at least some of the parents they know to vaccinate their children.

According to our survey, parents’ biggest concern about the COVID-19 vaccine is side effects—with 54% saying they’re very concerned.

But they're also just as worried about their children getting COVID-19 as they are about those vaccine side effects. Half of the surveyed parents worry about their children contracting COVID, and 55% worry about their kids developing long COVID.

Surveyed parents expressed worry over normal side effects, including fever, redness, aches. But Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panelists expressed concern about the potential risk of myocarditis—a rare inflammation of the heart. This specific condition has occurred in a small number of teens and young adults that caught COVID or who got an RNA-based COVID vaccine. However, there were no cases of myocarditis reported during the clinical trial of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids 5-11.

The Vaccine Rollout Will Look Different For Kids

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is going to look a little different for kids. Instead of investing in mass vaccination sites, the White House is making kids’ COVID vaccines available at pediatricians, community clinics, schools, and pharmacies. 

Children regularly receive shots at the doctor’s office. The relationship between parents and pediatricians will be essential in getting any of their questions answered. 

Parents are also more prepared for mandates for kids and welcome them. Schools, childcare establishments, and camps already mandate many vaccines. 

More than half (53%) of parents of school-aged kids expect their school to require COVID-19 vaccinations. However, only 19% of parents in our survey do not expect these kinds of mandates at their schools; 23% say they don’t know what to expect. 

If schools did require COVID-19 vaccinations, 53% of parents would favor mandates, while 30% of parents in our survey say they would be against it. 

Some school districts are already employing mandates for adolescents 12 and up. While it’s likely that these schools will also mandate the COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11, they may wait for full FDA approval before doing so. 

Methodology

The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a biweekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey is fielded online every other week. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region. It consists of 1,000 Americans from December 16, 2020, until February 26, 2020, after which the sample size increased to 2,000 per wave.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Myocarditis and Pericarditis After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination. Updated November 5, 2021.