This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat.

Wigle J, Hodwitz K, Juando-Prats C, Allan K, Li X, Howard L, Fallon B, Birken CS, Maguire JL, Parsons JA. Parents’ perspectives on SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations for children: a qualitative analysis. CMAJ. 2023 Feb 21;195(7):E259-E266. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.221401.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

A CITF-funded study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) discussed how parents’ experiences making decisions regarding SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for their children were complex, even for those who were supportive of vaccination. The study was led by Drs. Jonathan Maguire and Janet Parsons (University of Toronto). This research is part of the TARGet Kids! (Applied Research Group for Kids) Study.

Key Findings:

  • Four cross-cutting themes representing a complex range of parental concerns toward SARS-CoV-2 vaccination for their children were identified:
    • the newness of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and uncertainty regarding evidence supporting their use,
    • the perceived politicization of guidance for vaccination,
    • social pressure surrounding vaccinations, and
    • consideration of individual versus collective benefits of vaccination.
  • The choice of whether or not to vaccinate children against SARS-CoV-2 represented a challenging decision for nearly all the parents who were interviewed. Despite high vaccination rates among parents (17 out of 20, among whom 13 had not experienced COVID-19 infection at the time of the interview), most expressed some degree of concern about vaccinating their children. This did not represent a dichotomy of pro-vaccine versus anti-vaccine views, but rather a spectrum of perspectives between these possibilities.
  • Parents expressed difficulty sourcing and evaluating evidence, determining the trustworthiness of guidance, and balancing their own conceptions of healthcare decisions with societal expectations and political messaging.

Healthcare providers and public health authorities can consider these insights when planning future vaccine rollouts.

This was a qualitative study involving in-depth individual interviews with 20 parents of children aged 5-18 years and enrolled with TARGet Kids! in the Greater Toronto Area. Interviews took place between February and April 2022. Most of the interviewees were female (18/20). The home country for most was Canada or the United States (14/20), and most self-identified as white (16/20). 13/20 had a university degree, with a median household income of $80,000-$200,000.