A new Parentkind poll of 734 parents has found that only 55% of parents with 12-15 year old children indicate that they would approve of their child being vaccinated, versus 37% saying they would not, with 9% undecided. The issue is a divisive one even for parents whose children fall outside of the 12-15 age range, with 48% of that demographic agreeing that the vaccine should be offered, but 41% disagreeing.
When it comes to children under the age of 12, there is even less parental support for vaccinating them among parents who have a child in that age range. Although almost two in five (39%) say they would support it, almost half (48%) oppose extending the vaccine programme to preteen children.
The uncertainty about rolling out the vaccination programme to younger children does not appear to be linked to parental vaccine hesitancy, with 77% of respondents indicating that they have been jabbed and only 16% saying they have not been. When it came to parents of older children aged 16-17 already eligible for vaccinations, 73% of parents polled said their child had either been vaccinated or had booked an appointment, where 28% said their 16-17 year olds had not been vaccinated and did not intend to be.
The findings come as the UK's chief medical officers (CMO) have recommended that a single dose of a Covid vaccine should be offered to healthy children aged 12 to 15.The government has published guidance on how the vaccination programme will be rolled out in schools.
Parentkind CEO John Jolly says, “Our research shows that parents with school-aged children of all age ranges are split on the issue of vaccinating younger children. Recent statements from ministers led to some confusion about whether or not non-consenting parents’ wishes can be overruled where the child is Gillick competent to give their consent. We are glad that government guidance has provided clarification. It is essential that parents are asked to give their consent, and are consulted in the unlikely event that differences of opinion between parent and child arise. We also call on government to be clear in their messaging to both parents and children about the risks and benefits of vaccinating children, so that families can come to informed decisions. Additionally, they must demonstrate to parents that it is safe for children in this age group to receive the vaccine. They must also explain how vaccination is beneficial either for the child's wellbeing or for broader public health purposes such as in decreasing the risk of further disruption to children’s education through additional periods of remote learning.”
A short online survey, promoted to parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland via social media, was active between 7th and 13th September 2021. 734 parents completed the survey; 112 had children aged 16-17, 379 had children aged 12-15 and 527 had children aged 11 and under. 77% of parents responding had received a covid-19 vaccination; broadly in line with the national average for parents of school age children.