A new poll has found that just more than half of parents with children under the age of 12 in the U.S. plan to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available, suggesting great hesitancy as Pfizer seeks federal approval to administer its vaccine to children.
A random sampling of more than 4,000 parents over seven days earlier this month found that 45% said they would not vaccinate their child under the age of 12, while 55% said they would, according to the Gallup poll results released Tuesday.
The poll’s results were released the same day that Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their vaccine data to the Food and Drug Administration for review after determining that their vaccine is both safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are not authorized for children under 12 in the U.S.
Gallup’s survey found that the majority of respondents — 75% — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, matching similar federal figures. Over half of teenagers ages 16–18 have received at least one dose, and less than half of children ages 12–15 have, Gallup reported.
“The survey data suggest that getting young children immunized may be a tougher challenge than getting parents and older children immunized,” Gallup’s report states.
The poll’s results were similarly split when it came to parents’ concerns about the virus infecting their child.
Just more than half of the surveyed parents with children under the age of 12 said they are either “very” or “somewhat” worried that their child would contract the virus, while 47% of them said they were either “not too worried” or “not at all worried.”
The Gallup poll’s results were similar to the results of a smaller poll conducted last week by Axios/Ipsos. That poll found that 42% of respondents with kids under 12 said they were not likely to vaccinate their children once they became eligible for a vaccine, while 44% of respondents said they would.
Rob Dejournett, a father of two girls in North Carolina who was not part of either poll, told HuffPost he is less concerned about his daughters, ages 6 and 9, catching the virus since current data shows they’re less likely to be symptomatic. He is eager to have them vaccinated, however, because he believes low vaccination rates are delaying a return to normalcy.
“It’s been a year and a half since I had both kids in [in-person school] for five days straight. A year and a half,” Dejournett said, adding that when his daughters aren’t in school, he or his wife has to miss work to watch them. “The kids are not getting the social interaction that they desperately need.”
A coronavirus outbreak in his youngest daughter’s classroom this week led to his wife and daughter both testing positive for the virus on Tuesday, meaning that Dejournett and his wife will be out of work for up to two weeks, he said.
“It’s just like, when is this going to end?” he said.
Pennsylvania mom Joanna Hunt, whose 7-year-old daughter has cystic fibrosis and lung scarring from a past infection, also said getting her child vaccinated would be “a light at the end of a long and lonely tunnel.”
“Anything that affects lungs could be a real problem for her,” Hunt told HuffPost of the potential risks her daughter faces if she contracts the coronavirus.
“Of course, there is a part of me that is concerned about my daughter having a reaction to the vaccine. But she could have a reaction to any new thing.”
“For over a year our daughter was kept isolated. Finally, over the summer we relented to allowing outside play (with masks), with kids whose parents are vaccinated and work from home,” Hunt wrote in an online message. “If the local numbers rise, we will be forced to stop allowing our daughter to play outside with the other kids again.”
Asked about any fears or concerns she has about the vaccine, Hunt said she trusts the science and sees how it has greatly improved her daughter’s life as she receives new and ongoing treatments for her cystic fibrosis.
“Of course there is a part of me that is concerned about my daughter having a reaction to the vaccine. But she could have a reaction to any new thing ― food, medicine, latex ― who knows! We do the things we can with the information we have, to make sure she has the best life possible,” she said.
New coronavirus cases among children have been at their highest levels in recent weeks, according to weekly case counts by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. Cases started to rise at the start of summer when the more contagious delta virus variant began to emerge.