New Parentkind research reveals stark division with most parents having strong views either way

A new poll of 185 parents in Northern Ireland has found that only 51% of parents with 12-15 year old children indicate that they would approve of their child being vaccinated, versus 36% saying they would not, with 13% undecided. The issue is a divisive one even for parents whose children fall outside of the 12-15 age range, with 39% of that demographic agreeing that the vaccine should be offered, but 41% disagreeing.

When it comes to children under the age of 12, there is even less parental support for vaccinating them among parents who have a child in that age range. Although almost one in three (31%) say they would support it, just over half (53%) oppose extending the vaccine programme to preteen children.

The uncertainty about rolling out the vaccination programme to younger children does not appear to be linked to parental vaccine hesitancy, with 77% of respondents indicating that they have been jabbed and only 18% saying they have not been. When it came to parents of older children aged 16-17 already eligible for vaccinations, 74% of parents polled said their child had either been vaccinated or had booked an appointment, where 26% said their 16-17 year olds had not been vaccinated and did not intend to be.

Parentkind’s findings come as the UK’s chief medical officers (CMO) have recommended that a single dose of a Covid vaccine should be offered to healthy children aged 12 to 15.

Head of Northern Ireland, Jayne Thompson says, “Our research shows that parents with school-aged children of all age ranges are split on the issue of vaccinating younger children. We call on government to be clear in their messaging to both parents and children about the risks and benefits of vaccinating children, so that families can come to informed decisions. Additionally, they must demonstrate to parents that it is safe for children in this age group to receive the vaccine. They must also explain how vaccination is beneficial either for the child’s wellbeing or for broader public health purposes such as in decreasing the risk of further disruption to children’s education through additional periods of remote learning. While we recognise that schools provide a practical basis upon which to roll out any vaccination plans for children of school age, it is also vital that schools have the space to focus on the educational concerns that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, therefore, we strongly encourage the authorities to work closely with school leaders to address the vaccination rollout and ensure that parents are fully consulted.”

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