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Parents' Intentions to Vaccinate Children Ages 12-17 for COVID-19: Demographic Factors, Geographic Patterns, and Reasons for Hesitancy

Publication Date
Trinidad Beleche; Allison Kolbe; Laina Bush; Benjamin D. Sommers

As of September 13, 2021, three vaccines to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are available in the United States. The Pfizer vaccine was granted full approval for use in individuals over the age of 16 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 23, 2021, and remains available under the May 10, 2021 emergency use authorization for individuals 12 through 15. The other two vaccines, Moderna and Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson, are authorized for use in individuals over the age of 18. Ongoing discussions suggest that a vaccine for children under the age of 12 may be available late in 2021. With the return to in-person school for many children this fall and the potential upcoming authorization for a vaccine for children under age 12, it is important to understand the factors that impact parents’ decision-making and perspectives about vaccinating children for COVID-19. Addressing parents’ concerns about vaccinating eligible children for COVID-19 requires communication approaches that are tailored to different groups in a way that will address their concerns.

To support state and local communication and outreach efforts, this analysis examines hesitancy among parents to vaccinate children 12-17 against COVID-19 using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Overall, approximately a quarter of parents with children ages 12-17 indicated hesitancy to vaccinate children. Hesitancy varied between demographic groups, including age and race/ethnicity, and geographic areas. This analysis also provides county-level estimates of hesitancy to vaccinate children ages 12-17.

This analysis does not attempt to include all potential variables that may impact parents’ decision to vaccinate children for COVID-19. Thus, our estimates should be used with caution when attempting to generalize beyond the factors examined. These and other limitations are further discussed in the Issue Brief.

Estimated Hesitancy to Vaccinate Children Ages 12-17, by County

ASPE Data Shown in Map: Estimated Hesitancy to Vaccinate Children Ages 12-17, by County (CSV)

Note: Hesitancy is defined as those who responded, “probably not” or “definitely not” or “unsure” to get a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-17 present in the household.

Source: ASPE analysis of Household Pulse Survey, pooling results from the July 21-August 2, 2021, August 4-August 16, 2021, and August 18-August 30, 2021 surveys.

*This content is in the process of Section 508 review. If you need immediate assistance accessing this content, please submit a request to Trini Beleche, (202) 941-7490, Content will be updated pending the outcome of the Section 508 review.

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