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Nemours study offers picture of parents’ COVID vaccine hesitancy

Delaware Public Media

Adolescents between 12-17 can now receive a COVID vaccine booster five months after their initial series of shots.

But how many will take advantage? COVID vaccination rates among eligible kids of all ages are lagging in the First State.

A recently published Nemours Children’s Health study offers some insight into why some parents are hesitant to get their children vaccinated.

The study’s co-leads, Dr. Ly Phan and Paul Enlow, join us to dig into the data and what it tells us.

Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne interviews Nemours Children's Health's Paul Enlow and Dr. Ly Phan

Study co-lead Paul Enlow, PhD
Nemours Children's Health
Study co-lead Paul Enlow, PhD

Researchers at Nemours Children’s Health want to use the results of a newly-published study to boost COVID vaccination rates - especially among particular groups.

Dr. Ly Phan, a pediatrician and Paul Enlow, a pediatric psychologist, surveyed 1,500 parents and caregivers last spring about whether they would vaccinate their kids.

Study co-lead Dr. Ly Phan
Nemours Children's Health
Study co-lead Dr. Ly Phan

They found greater uncertainty among parents of younger children, Black children, and those from economically-disadvantaged and rural communities.

Many of them questioned the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Phan says they plan to work with community partners to develop strategies to change those beliefs often influenced by misinformation.

"A lot of those beliefs are firmly held and I don't know if we’ve done a great job of targeting those beliefs and leveraging trusted experts like doctors to do the job and the hard work of convincing parents to vaccinate their children," she said.  

Phan says their work will not just aim to combat myths about the vaccine, but determine what would motivate parents to get their children vaccinated.

"What do people really care about?  What’s the messaging we should be delivering? And what we’ve been finding is that it’s different for each community and so we’re really trying to tailor our messaging and our strategies to each community," she said.

Overall, the survey showed 54% said they would vaccinate their children, 34% were uncertain, and 12% said they would not.

According to the latest data released by the state, about 18% of children ages 5-11in Delaware are fully vaccinated against COVID. That number increases to 54% for 12 to 17 year olds.

The Nemours study was published in the Delaware Journal of Public Health.

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Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.