Parents are more reluctant to vaccinate their children than themselves, says researcher – .

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Parents are more reluctant to vaccinate their children than themselves, says researcher – .



OTTAWA – Jennifer Hubert jumped at the chance to get her COVID-19 vaccine, but she’s not looking forward to making the decision about whether or not to vaccinate her three-year-old son, Jackson.

OTTAWA – Jennifer Hubert jumped at the chance to get her COVID-19 vaccine, but she’s not looking forward to making the decision about whether or not to vaccinate her three-year-old son, Jackson.

She recognizes the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, but said she also understands that her son has a much lower risk of serious illness than older adults.

“For me that’s not an obvious advantage,” she said.

While many parents were overjoyed to learn that Health Canada was considering approving the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 in Canada, parents like Hubert are feeling more worried, and health officials public said they were going to have a much more nuanced conversation with parents about immunization than with adults.

While 82 percent of eligible Canadians aged 12 and over are already fully immunized, a recent Angus Reid poll shows that only 51 percent of parents plan to immunize their children immediately when a pediatric dose becomes available.

Among parents of children aged 5 to 11, 23% said they would never give their children a COVID-19 vaccine, 18% said they would wait and 9% said they were not sure, according to the poll of 5,011 Canadians between September 29 and October 3, which cannot be assigned a margin of error because online surveys are not considered random samples.

“Most of the research I’ve seen somehow indicates that parents are more reluctant to vaccinate their children against COVID than they are themselves,” said Kate Allen, postdoctoral fellow at the University’s Center for Vaccine Preventable Diseases. from Toronto.

There are several reasons parents might take a break, she said.

It is true that children are at much lower risk of serious outcomes associated with COVID-19, and there have been very rare incidents of mRNA vaccines like Pfizer or Moderna linked to cases of myocarditis, swelling of the heart muscle. .

As of October 1, Health Canada had documented 859 vaccine-associated cases, which appear to primarily affect people under the age of 40, and people who have developed the complication are generally fine.

“I know it’s rare, I know it’s not fatal, but I also consider Jackson’s risk of severe symptoms of COVID rare and non-fatal,” Hubert said when asked to ” assess the risks and benefits of the vaccine.

But public health experts point out that some children suffer from rare but severe impacts of COVID-19, which can also cause myocarditis as well as the little understood impacts of the disease known as COVID-19.

They say parents should also consider the less tangible benefits of vaccination.

“It’s less of a conversation about a direct benefit to them, and more of a community benefit,” Allen said.

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on children, depriving them of school, time with their peers, extracurricular activities – and their mental health has suffered, said Dr Vinita Dubey, deputy medical officer of health at Toronto Public Health .

“No child has been spared by this pandemic. I mean every child had to make a sacrifice because of the pandemic in one way or another, ”Dubey said.

So far, Pfizer-BioNtech is the only manufacturer seeking approval for its pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and Health Canada is still reviewing the data.

The regulator has promised that the review will be further and that the vaccine will only be approved for children if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Policymakers know that they will also have to take parents’ concerns seriously.

During a recent visit to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Dr. Anne Pham-Huy, a physician specializing in pediatric infectious diseases.

“Confidence in vaccines will be the most important part this time around,” Pham-Huy said, which Trudeau agreed to.

Dubey has published research on improving parental confidence in vaccines when dealing with long-established inoculations like mumps and rubella.

Although she offered several tips, it mostly boils down to building trust. Her research focused on the role of family physicians, but she said during the pandemic, anyone can be that sounding board of trust.

“It could be a religious leader, it could be an important family member or friend, someone you trust, to help guide you to the right sources to make that decision,” he said. she declared.

With that in mind, several students from across North America have started a peer education program called Students for Herd Immunity to allow children to have these conversations with each other.

Public health experts agree, the vaccine debate has become polarized, and open conversations will be key to addressing parents’ concerns.

“I think one thing to tell parents is that you don’t have to make your decision right away,” Dubey said. “I mean for those who are ready to make their decision, but that’s fine, but if you have questions look for the answers. “

Her only advice is to get those answers from a trusted source, not social media.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 24, 2021.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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