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Home Coronavirus KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: Vaccination Trends Among Children And COVID-19 In Schools

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: Vaccination Trends Among Children And COVID-19 In Schools

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The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

Key Findings

  • The latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that nearly half (48%) of parents of children ages 12-17 say their child has received at least one dose of a vaccine. With news from Pfizer that clinical trials showed their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective for children ages five to eleven, the Vaccine Monitor (conducted September 13-22, with the bulk of interviews concluding before Pfizer’s announcement) finds that about a third of parents (34%) say they will vaccinate their 5-11 year old child “right away” once a vaccine is authorized for their age group.
  • As policymakers and school leaders across the country implement policies to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in school and keep children safe, a majority of parents (58%) say K-12 schools should require all students and staff to wear masks while at school while about a third (35%) say schools should have no mask requirements at all. Regardless of preferences, nearly seven in ten parents with a child attending in-person school (69%) say their school is requiring all students and staff to wear masks and just 28% say their school has no mask requirement. While mask requirements appear to be widespread in schools, COVID-19 testing is less common with half of parents saying their school district is not offering testing to students who are not eligible to get the vaccine.
  • While two-thirds (66%) of parents with a child attending in-person school say their child’s school is doing about the right amount to limit the spread of COVID-19 at school, almost one in four parents of a child attending in-person school (23%) say their child has been required to quarantine at home due to a possible COVID-19 exposure since the school year began.

Trends In COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Among Children

Five months after the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine’s use in children ages 12 and over, nearly half (48%) of parents of children ages 12-17 say their child has received at least one dose of a vaccine. The share of parents who say they want to “wait and see” before getting their 12-17 year old vaccinated has decreased to 15%, down from 23% in July. Just 4% of parents say they will only get their teenager vaccinated “if their school requires it,” and one in five (21%) say they will “definitely not” vaccinate their child, similar to the share measured in previous months.

On September 20th, Pfizer announced that clinical trials showed their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective for children ages five to eleven. The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor (conducted September 13-22, with the bulk of interviews concluding before Pfizer’s announcement) finds that about a third of parents (34%) say they will vaccinate their 5-11 year old child “right away” once a vaccine is authorized for their age group. About a third of parents (32%) say they will “wait and see” how the vaccine is working before having their 5-11 year old vaccinated. Notably, the share who say they definitely won’t get their 5-11 year old vaccinated remains steady at one in four (24%).

Parents continue to be more cautious about getting their younger children vaccinated with about one in four (23%) saying they will get their child under the age of 5 vaccinated right away once a vaccine is available for that age group and about a third (35%) saying they will definitely not get their child under 5 vaccinated for COVID-19.

COVID-19 and Schools

With schools now back in session amidst a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration and government and school officials across the country are implementing precautions and policies in an attempt to limit COVID-19 transmission and keep students safe at school. As part of the efforts, many schools are requiring students and staff to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Overall, a majority of parents (58%) say K-12 schools should require all students and staff to wear masks while at school, 4% say they should only require unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks, and about a third (35%) say schools should have no mask requirements at all. Seven in ten parents (73%) who are vaccinated for COVID-19 themselves say schools should require all students to wear masks, while about six in ten unvaccinated parents (63%) say there should be no masking requirements at all. Notably mothers are more likely than fathers to say schools should require all students and staff to wear masks (70% vs 42%).

Among parents with a child attending in-person school, nearly seven in ten (69%) say their school is requiring all students and staff to wear masks, just one percent say masks are required only for unvaccinated individuals, and 28% say their school has no mask requirement. Notably, a large majority of parents who say their child’s school requires all students and staff to wear masks support that policy with 73% saying schools should require all students and staff to wear masks.

Earlier this month, President Biden outlined further steps his administration would take in efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and limit its spread in schools. A key component of his plan is increasing access to COVID-19 testing in schools. However, the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that just 6% of parents of children who attend school in person say their school district is offering routine testing to students who are not eligible to get the vaccine and one in five say it is offering optional testing. Half of parents say their school district is not offering testing at all (51%) and another one in five (22%) say they don’t know if testing is being offered to students not eligible for the vaccine.

Overall, two-thirds (66%) of parents with a child attending in-person school say their child’s school is doing about the right amount to limit the spread of COVID-19 at school. About one in ten (11%) say their child’s school is doing too much while about one in five (21%) feel their child’s school is not doing enough to limit the spread of COVID-19 at school.

Despite most parents saying they feel their child’s school is doing about the right amount to limit the spread of COVID-19 at school, almost one in four parents of a child attending in-person school (23%) say their child has been required to quarantine at home due to a possible COVID-19 exposure since the school year began, including a 26% of parents of younger children ages 5-11. With a notable share of parents reporting their child has had to quarantine due to a possible COVID-19 exposure, a majority of parents (57%) say they are worried their child may get seriously sick from coronavirus. Mothers (68%), Hispanic parents (71%), and lower-income parents (74%) are particularly likely to say they are worried their child may get seriously sick from coronavirus.

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