Nov. 24, 2021– As vaccinations among children ages 5-11 pick up steam, a significant number of parents say they do not want their kids vaccinated.
In a poll of WebMD readers, 49% of those responding who have children in that age group say they do not want their sons and daughters to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Nov. 2, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, endorsed an agency advisory panel’s recommendation that children 5-11 be vaccinated with the Pfizer pediatric vaccine. That decision expanded vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States.
Vaccinations among the recently eligible 5- to 11-year-olds have steadily increased after a somewhat slow start. At first, the pace was behind that of the 12- to 15-years-olds through the first week of eligibility, but it has since closed the gap, based on data from the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.
Altogether, just over 3 million children ages 5-11 have received at least one dose, which is 10.7% of that age group’s total population.
The CDC says that the Pfizer vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection in children 5 to 15 years old, and that the immune response in children ages 5-15 equaled the immune response in people 16 to 25 years old.
Among people overall in the WebMD poll, 56% said they were confident or somewhat confident that the vaccine is safe for that age group.
Among adolescents and young adults, rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been reported. According to the CDC, “[I]n one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12-17 years.”
Known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks, including the possible risk for myocarditis or pericarditis, the CDC says.
Concerns Also Among Doctors, Nurses
A companion poll of doctors and nurses on Medscape, WebMD’s sister site for health care professionals, also found significant hesitation to the children’s vaccines.
Among doctors who have children in that age group, 30% of respondents said they would not want their children to be vaccinated; 9% were unsure. For nurses and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), 45% said they did not want their kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine; 13% were unsure. Among pharmacists, 31% said they would not get them vaccinated and 9% were unsure.
How Safe Is the Vaccine?
Clinicians were asked how confident they were that the vaccine is safe for that age group, and 66% of physicians, 52% of nurses/APRNs, and 66% of pharmacists said they were somewhat or very confident.
Across clinician types, women edged out their male counterparts on confidence in the vaccine’s safety: 71% vs. 65% among doctors, 55% vs. 45% among nurses/APRNs, and 68% vs. 60% among pharmacists.
Among both doctors and nurses, younger doctors (under 45) tended to have greater confidence in the vaccine’s safety: 72% vs 64% (doctors), 54% vs 51% (nurses/APRNs), and 71% vs 59% (pharmacists).
The difference in confidence was clear between vaccinated and unvaccinated doctors. All of the unvaccinated doctors who responded to the poll said they had no confidence in the vaccine for kids. Among unvaccinate