The following report highlights findings from a survey fielded by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in March 2022. We examine COVID-19 vaccination among parents (n=263), their willingness to vaccinate their children, and their sentiments on COVID-19 related policies and mandates. The survey was conducted from March 21 – March 22, 2022, among 1,000 participants across nine New York counties: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester. Due to the small sample size, this report is based on exploratory data and is meant only to identify potential trends for further research and inquiry. One clear example of this is that our data does not mirror city or state vaccine dosage data, however, this subsample allows us a glimpse into evolving attitudes on an important issue
Child vaccination rates and parent willingness to vaccinate their children
Despite expanded eligibility, vaccination rates remained low among children who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Twenty-three percent (23%) of parents with a child aged 5-11 years old and one quarter (25%) of parents with a child aged 12-18 years old said their child has received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Parents who are vaccinated themselves were more likely to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Among vaccinated parents, 57% said their child aged 5-11 years old was also vaccinated, and 52% said their child aged 12-18 years was vaccinated.
Overall, parents may be less willing to vaccinate their younger children. Among parents with unvaccinated children aged 5-11 years old, nearly half (49%) said they are not very likely or not at all likely to vaccinate their child; seven percent (7%) felt unsure. Forty-four percent (44%) report that they are very or somewhat likely to vaccinate their 5-11 year old in the future.
Parents with older children may be more willing to have them vaccinated against COVID-19. Among parents with unvaccinated children aged 12 to 18 years, over half (53%) were very or somewhat likely to vaccinate their child in the future; 7% felt unsure; 40% were not very likely or not at all likely to vaccinate their child.
When asked about the likelihood of vaccinating their child under 5 years old once that age group is eligible, 46% of parents said they are very likely or somewhat likely to vaccinate their child. Forty-five percent (45%) were not willing to vaccinate their child and 9% were unsure. These sentiments may change if vaccination becomes available to this age group, though these data point to a continued need to address age-based parental questions about COVID-19 vaccination as some parents may have different concerns depending on their child’s age.
Parent sentiments on COVID-19 related policies and mandates
Among parents surveyed, acceptance of recommended childhood vaccinations was high (i.e., MMR, Polio, etc.). Eighty-nine percent (89%) of all parents said their child received all the recommended vaccinations for their age. Opinions on whether COVID-19 vaccination should be added to the list of vaccines required for school enrollment were not as widely consistent.
Nearly half of all parents (46% – 47% depending on child age group) reported support for a school-based COVID-19 vaccine requirement while 41%-43% felt opposed. Parents who opposed the idea of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for school were also unlikely to have vaccinated their children against COVID-19. Among this parent group, one percent (1%) said their 5-11 year old child was vaccinated and thirteen percent (13%) said their 12-18 year old child was vaccinated. Conversely, parents in support of the policy were more likely to have vaccinated their child(ren); forty-four percent (44%) of parents said their 5-11 year old child was vaccinated and thirty-nine percent (39%) of parents said their 12-18 year old child was vaccinated.
Parental opinions towards ending indoor mask requirements were varied. Over two thirds of parents (66%-68% depending on their child’s age group) approved of ending the policies that required masks for indoor public activities and in-person schooling; 22%-23% were opposed to the lifting of the mandates. Parents with vaccinated children were more likely to report opposition to ending the masking policies–64% of parents who opposed ending the policies had a vaccinated child aged 5-11 years old, and 56% of parents had a vaccinated child aged 12-18 years old.