MIL-OSI United Kingdom: expert reaction to study looking at the willingness of children to have the COVID-19 vaccine

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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

A study published in EClinicalMedicine looks at survey results on willingness of children and adolescents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

This Roundup accompanied an SMC Briefing.

Prof Helen Bedford, Professor of Children’s Health, UCL, said:

“As the highly successful UK COVID-19 vaccination programme enters its next phases, it is important to understand how children and young people feel about the vaccine. This study found that although the majority of children and young people aged 9-17 years were willing or eager to be vaccinated, younger pupils, those from more deprived areas, those with less healthy behaviours or who were less socially engaged with their school community were less willing to be vaccinated.  Vaccination of 12-15 year olds has recently been introduced. Although no decision has been made about offering the vaccine to younger children, it is important to be prepared by identifying groups of young people for whom different strategies may be needed to increase vaccination acceptance.”

 

Dr Nilu Ahmed, a behavioural psychologist at the University of Bristol, said:

“This study provides new insight into how age impacts attitudes to vaccination. We see in the younger group that those from families with lower incomes and who held a lower sense of belonging to their school community displayed greater vaccine hesitancy. This reflects findings within the adult population where those from disadvantaged and disenfranchised groups hold greater reservations about the vaccination. This suggests messages about the benefits of the vaccination are not adequately reaching all sectors of society.

“Younger children are more likely to look to parents for guidance whilst adolescents’ opinions begin to diverge from their parents as they incorporate messages from wider groups. Combatting Covid needs immediate action therefore it is crucial to address the different levels of uptake and awareness by making information available in a range of accessible formats to limit the further entrenchment of health inequalities.”

Dr Ben Kasstan, a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol, said:

“As the UK COVID-19 vaccination programme evolves, it is helpful to understand responses to vaccination in different age groups. It is not too surprising to read that young people aged 16-17 are more likely to report accepting COVID-19 vaccinations. This is an age group looking ahead to higher education, professional training, foreign travel and reaching the milestone age of 18 and being able to enter bars/clubs. The study was conducted between May and July 2021, before vaccinations for these age groups were approved and made available. We should remember that reported vaccine ‘hesitancy’ among children and adolescence may change as schools are included in COVID-19 vaccination programmes. I am also concerned about classing children and adolescents – from as young as nine years old – as ‘anti-vaccination’ if they would anticipate opting out from the COVID-19 vaccine programme. Researchers should be cautious about labelling children and adolescents, especially before any school-based Government vaccination information and promotion campaign has been conducted.”

‘Willingness of children and adolescents to have a COVID-19 vaccination: Results of a large whole schools survey in England’ by Mina Fazel et al was published in EClinicalMedicine at 23:30 UK time on Monday 27th September.

DOI: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101144

 

All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:

www.sciencemediacentre.org/tag/covid-19

Declared interests

Dr Nilu Ahmed: “No COIs.”

Dr Ben Kasstan: “No COIs.”

None others received.

MIL OSI United Kingdom