Health Canada approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on children 12 and older on May 5, 2021. As part of her CITF-funded research, Dr. Kate Zinszer, from Université de Montréal, and her colleagues examined willingness to vaccinate children according to level of education, neighbourhood, and visible minority status within a cohort of parents in Montreal. In a preprint, therefore not yet peer-reviewed, most of the parents surveyed (86%) responded that they were likely to have their child vaccinated against COVID-19, but the numbers are less among visible minorities.

 

Main conclusions

  • Most of the 380 parents surveyed supported COVID-19 vaccination in children: 61% responded that they were very likely to have their child vaccinated against COVID-19, and 25% said they were somewhat likely.
  • There were potentially important racial/ethnic differences in the willingness of parents to vaccinate their children, with close to 35% of visible minority parents responding they are not likely to vaccinate their children.

 

The authors analyzed cross-sectional data from an ongoing longitudinal COVID-19 seroprevalence study (EnCORE) that included vaccine intention questions as part of an online questionnaire filled out between January 22 and April 1, 2021. Responses came from 380 parents or guardians of children aged 2-17 attending one of the 51 schools or daycares participating in the study. The responses were categorized as 61% were very likely, 25% somewhat likely, 9.2% somewhat unlikely, and 4.5% very unlikely to have their child vaccinated against COVID-19. The most common reason parents were unlikely to vaccinate was concern over the lack of information about the vaccine’s safety and possible side effects (48%). Of the parents surveyed, only one reported distrust of vaccines in general.

The findings show a difference in vaccine hesitancy when comparing the answers from parents from visible minorities to others. Among visible minorities, 30.3% were very likely, 36.8% were somewhat likely, and 32.9% were unlikely to vaccinate their children. In contrast, most other parents were very likely to vaccine their children (66.6%), versus only 23.9% were somewhat likely, and 9.5% unlikely to vaccinate. Visible minorities were mostly Latin American and Arab (42% and 30%, respectively), with a minor component from Black and Southeast Asian communities (10% and 12%, respectively).

The authors suggest that research is needed to quantify these differences on a larger scale and to better understand why these communities have lower vaccination intention. This could help develop tailored strategies to promote vaccine acceptance and uptake, in order to avoid exacerbating existing COVID-19 inequities among racialized populations in Canada.

 

McKinnon B, Quach C, Dubé È, Tuong Nguyen C, Zinszer K. Social and racial/ethnic differences in parental willingness to vaccinate children against COVID-19 in Montreal, Canada. medRxiv. 2021 May 11. doi: 10.1101/2021.05.08.21256831.