Chicago Parents Have Evolving Attitudes About COVID-19 Vaccinations for Their Children

March 03, 2022

A new survey from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has found that a majority of children and adolescents in the city are either already vaccinated against COVID-19 or very likely to be vaccinated if the vaccine is recommended for young children, according to their parents.

As vaccines have been authorized for younger children over the last year, more children have become eligible for immunization against COVID-19. At present, the COVID-19 vaccine is available for youth 5-18 years old, and studies are underway for children age 6 months through 4 years old.

Parent perspectives from the latest VOICES of Child Health in Chicago survey indicate that more than 3 in 5 children 12-17 years old have already been vaccinated. However, many parents of very young children may be hesitant to have their child vaccinated.

The survey was conducted between October-November 2021, shortly after the COVID-19 vaccine became available for children 5-11 years old. Based on parents’ responses in the survey:

  • 61 percent of children 12 years and older were already vaccinated.
  • 12 percent of children 5-11 years old were already vaccinated, and 49 percent were very likely to be vaccinated.
  • 41 percent of children under 5 years old were very likely to be vaccinated, 22 percent were somewhat likely to be vaccinated, and 34 percent were not likely to be vaccinated.

Higher vaccination rates for adolescents 12 and older align with the fact that the vaccine has been available longer for this age group.

“We are encouraged that nearly two-thirds of youth 5 years old and older have been vaccinated against COVID-19 already or are likely to be vaccinated soon. As vaccines against COVID-19 become available for even younger children in the coming months, we encourage parents to talk with their child’s health care provider to discuss any questions they may have about vaccines for their child,” says Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Lurie Children’s, Executive Vice-President and Chief Community Health Transformation Officer at the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Lurie Children’s, and Chair of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Survey findings also indicated:

  • Answers from parents in the city’s North and Central regions showed that children in those neighborhoods were most likely to be vaccinated (78-79 percent), compared to 52 percent in the West and 43 percent in the South regions.
  • Rates of child vaccination against COVID-19 in late 2021 indicate broader acceptance by Chicago parents than parents indicated in 2020in earlier surveys conducted by Voices of Child Health in Chicago.

“These findings show that Chicago parents’ views have evolved over the last year, towards greater support for COVID-19 vaccination for their children. Early on, parents expressed lower intentions to vaccinate their children before vaccines were available. But more recently, parents have reported higher rates of vaccination for their children and higher intentions to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 as the vaccine has become more readily available for younger children,” says Jennifer D. Kusma, MD, MS, Attending Physician, Advanced General Pediatrics and Primary Care at Lurie Children’s.

Respondents to the survey were parents from all 77 Chicago neighborhoods, with 1,142 parents participating.

Parents’ race was also a strong predictor of intentions to vaccinate. A majority of White children (75 percent) already had or were likely to be vaccinated, followed by Asian children (70 percent), Latinx children (60 percent) and Black children (47 percent). Higher annual household income and parent education level also were associated with the likelihood that children would be vaccinated.

Population-focused child health research at Lurie Children’s is conducted through the Mary Ann & J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outcomes, and Evaluation Center at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the persistent pursuit of new knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 223,000 children from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and 37 countries.