Vaccinations offer safe and effective protection against COVID-19, so you’d think that parents would have been universally excited to discuss options with their kids’ pediatricians once the vaccine was made available to children. According to one new report, that was not the case.
Researchers from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan explored whether the COVID-19 pandemic affected parents’ conversations about vaccines with their children’s healthcare providers. About 1,500 parents of children ages 6–18 were polled. Of the sampling, 82 percent said they discussed school-required vaccines with their kid’s primary care provider during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty-eight percent reported discussing the flu vaccine, and 57 percent said they chatted about the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, one in seven parents said they have not had any discussions about vaccines with their child’s doctor in the past two years. Three percent went so far as to “delay or skip a healthcare visit” altogether to avoid the vaccine conversation.
These parents were in the minority of respondents, sure, but their unwillingness to discuss vaccination options with providers is still cause for concern. Take it from Sarah Clark, MPH of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the poll’s co-director, who worries about the proliferation of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation — especially among parents who don’t feel like they can trust their child’s doctor. There are plenty of valid reasons to miss a doctor’s appointment, and many of us did during the height of the pandemic, but intentionally sidestepping a necessary conversation about your child’s health is not one of them.
“Things are turned upside down,” Clark said in a press statement. “Parents shouldn’t feel afraid of raising these conversations; they should go in with the expectation they are going to have a good conversation and go away with the information they need.”
These parent-provider conversations matter because they empower parents to make informed decisions about their children’s health. According to the Mott Poll report, parents who recalled talking to their child’s doctor about vaccines were more likely to get their kid vaccinated.
The good news? Although some parents who were polled said they worried about insulting or irritating their child’s doctor by bringing up vaccine-related concerns, that was not how these conversations played out. About 80 percent of respondents who talked to providers about flu or COVID-19 vaccines said they felt doctors were “open to this discussion,” and over 70 percent said they learned helpful information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older. Booster shots are also recommended for people ages 5 and up, if eligible.
So, if you have any questions about vaccinating your child, don’t be afraid to talk to their primary care provider. You might come away from the conversation with a new perspective — or at the very least, some new information from a reputable source.
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