Parents Aren’t Jumping to Get Their Babies, Toddlers Vaccinated

Survey indicates many parents still have questions about shots for kids under 5

A 20-month-old baby receives the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on June 21, 2022, in Seattle. A Morning Consult survey found that 42% of U.S. parents with children under 5 said they will definitely or probably get their kids vaccinated. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

COVID-19 vaccines began rolling out this week for nearly 20 million newly eligible toddlers and babies — but many of their parents are wary of the shots, according to a new Morning Consult survey that suggests public health officials will face an uphill battle to drive up immunization rates for the youngest Americans.

Survey indicates vaccine uptake for babies, toddlers may be slow

  • Moderna Inc.’s and Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months, but parents’ eagerness for the shots is muted so far. In the first days of the campaign, 42% of U.S. parents with children under 5 said they will definitely or probably get their kids vaccinated, while 13% said they probably won’t and 32% said they plan to skip the shots altogether.
  • Asked why they plan to forgo vaccination for their kids, most wary parents cited concerns over the safety of the shots and the vaccine development process — issues that unvaccinated adults overall commonly cite as their own top reasons for skipping the vaccines.
  • Early vaccine hesitancy among parents with young kids is in line with the sluggish immunization campaign among older children. As of June 22, just 29.6% of children ages 5 to 11 were fully vaccinated, compared with 59.8% of those ages 12 to 17, federal health data shows.
  • The Biden administration is leaning on pediatricians to get the word out about the newly available pediatric shots, and launched a public service campaign to promote them. The survey shows these efforts have a ways to go: Parents of young children were no more likely than adults overall to say they’ve seen, read or heard “a lot” about the newly authorized pediatric shots, at roughly 1 in 5 each.

The June 18-23, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 471 U.S. parents with children under 5, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.