Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to authorize their Covid-19 vaccine for children ages six months to five years old—but the vaccine rollout among kids ages five to 11 shows a majority of parents are still hesitant about getting their children inoculated.
Only 30.5% of children ages five to 11 have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 21.8% are fully vaccinated.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted January 11-23 found a 52% majority of parents of five- to 11-year-olds are opposed to or unsure about vaccinating their child, with 24% saying they’ll “definitely not” get their child the shot, 9% saying they’ll only do it if required and 19% saying they’ll “wait and see.”
That’s down from when the shots first started rolling out to kids in November, when 68% of parents were either hesitant or against vaccination, including 29% who said they’d “definitely not” inoculate their kid.
While the omicron variant surge led to record levels of Covid-19 hospitalizations among children, a 79% majority of parents of children ages five to 17 said the new variant “doesn’t make a difference” in their decision of whether or not to vaccinate their child.
Only 14% said the variant made them more likely to inoculate their kid, while 6% said it made them less likely.
What We Don’t Know
How the vaccine rollout will go for younger children if the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for them, though polling suggests hesitancy will still be an issue. Only 31% of parents of children under five said they’ll vaccinate their child “right away” once the shot is authorized, according to KFF, while 29% plan to wait and see. A further 38% are opposed to vaccinating their child or will only do so if required.
What To Watch For
The FDA’s advisory committee will meet to discuss authorizing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for young children on February 15, meaning the shots could roll out soon after if the FDA rules in favor of them.
Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday they’re asking the FDA to expand its Emergency Use Authorization for their vaccine to include young children at the agency’s request, after the FDA previously authorized the shots for five- to 11-year-olds in late October 2021. The vaccine series for young children is expected to be three vaccine doses, but since data on the third shot’s effectiveness isn’t available yet, the companies are asking the FDA to first approve two shots so parents can start vaccinating their kids now and then get the third shot once it’s available. Pfizer and BioNTech then expect to submit third-shot data to the FDA in the coming months. The companies decided to add the third shot in December after initial clinical trials showed the vaccine—which is given in a lower dose to children—didn’t produce a strong enough immune response in two- to five-year-olds, though it was more effective in babies.
Teenagers ages 12 to 17 are recording much higher vaccination rates than younger children, with the CDC reporting 66.2% have received at least a first dose and 56% are fully vaccinated. The KFF poll found the share of parents of 12- to 17-year-olds saying their child had gotten the shot went up by 12 percentage points between November and January, from 49% to 61%. The percentage of parents who said they refused to vaccinate their teenager went down from 30% to 23% in that timeframe, and those planning to wait and see declined from 13% to 6%. A 62% majority of parents also said their teenager had already gotten or would “definitely get” a booster shot—which are now approved for that age group—and only 14% said their child would probably or definitely not receive the extra dose.
KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: January 2022 Parents And Kids Update (KFF)
Pfizer Asks FDA To Authorize Its Covid Shot For Kids Under 5 (Forbes)
Kids Ages 5-11 Are Now Eligible For Covid Vaccines—But Polls Suggest Many Parents Won’t Let Their Child Get The Shot (Forbes)
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