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Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Parental Attitudes About Vaccines

Two studies examine parental trust in vaccine information and polarization of attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic and identify a number of vaccine concerns that can be addressed to improve COVID-19 vaccine confidence.

In Colorado, results of the Health eMoms survey of randomly sampled birthing parents from 2018 to 2021 showed the following: “Overall, 20.4% (726/3553) of respondents were vaccine hesitant. Vaccine hesitancy during pandemic time periods was not different from the prepandemic period (prevaccine adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.82, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.65–1.04; postvaccine aOR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.85–1.34). In analyses of individual hesitancy questions, parents were more likely to be unsure about trusting vaccine information in the pandemic postvaccine time period compared with the prepandemic period (aOR = 2.14; 95% CI = 1.55–2.96), and less likely to be unsure about their hesitancy toward childhood vaccines (aOR = 0.48; 95% CI = 0.27–0.84).”

Addressable concerns identified in key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus groups were as follows: “Overall, 36 participants completed the study: 4 vaccine acceptors and 4 refusers via KIIs, and the remaining 28 participated in focus groups. Participants from all focus groups expressed that they would listen to their doctor for information about COVID-19 vaccines. Infertility was a common concern, along with general concerns about vaccines. Vaccine decision-making was informed by the amount of information available to parents/caregivers, including scientific research; possible positive and negative long-term effects; and potential impacts of vaccination on preexisting medical conditions.”

Editorial: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of a robust public health infrastructure for effectively responding to health threats, including vaccine preventable diseases, in a way that earns public confidence,” write editorialists. “Such a program would do well to use measures that: (1) have a conceptual basis in behavior science, (2) assess a comprehensive suite of constructs that drive vaccination behavior, (3) align with measures used by other countries, (4) are refined through cognitive interviewing, and (5) work in multiple languages. The data gathered should: (6) reflect high response rates and representative samples, (7) be available to vaccination programs in real time without lengthy delays, and (8) support subgroup analyses (eg, by race and by meaningfully small geographic units). Efforts to reinvest in this infrastructure should include national surveillance of vaccine confidence and hesitancy. Only by doing so can we achieve a comprehensive, national response to immunization programs that [these] studies signal we so desperately need.”

Source: Pediatrics