Parents’ Confidence in Vaccines Rises; Impact of Delta Variant and FDA Approval Could Be Significant

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With schools beginning to open nationwide, 38% of parents say their child age 12-17 has been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new national poll conducted Aug. 4-5 by Dr. Frank Luntz in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation. In the poll, a full 60% of parents who are vaccinated report that their child has gotten a vaccine, compared with only 11% of unvaccinated parents.

The findings show that parents are very concerned about the Delta variant, and its spread across the country makes them more likely to get their children vaccinated. Nationally, 76% said the Delta variant increases the likelihood of their children getting a COVID vaccine, including 48% who said “much more likely.” Critically important, that includes 68% of parents who are unvaccinated and 66% who are self-identified Republicans.

“Clearly, parenting unites Americans more than politics,” said Dr. Brian C. Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “All parents want schools to open safely, and the Delta variant plus full FDA approval of the vaccines could be the recipe for increased vaccination among children.”

Dr. Luntz said, “The influence of partisan politics in decisions that should instead be based on data and doctors threatens our nation’s children. The public wants health and education experts, not politicians, deciding school COVID policies.”

Vaccinated parents are SIX TIMES more likely than unvaccinated parents to have gotten their children ages 12-17 vaccinated.

A large majority of parents say the spread of the Delta variant makes them more likely that their child will get vaccinated.

Parents’ confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is growing.

Parental trust in COVID vaccines continues to climb.  Fully 75% of parents said they think the COVID vaccines are safe for children, up from 65% in May 2021.

Parents say full FDA approval would make them more likely to get their children vaccinated.

72% of parents, including more than half (56%) of unvaccinated parents, said the FDA’s full approval would make them more confident in the safety of the vaccines. Two-thirds (67%), including 51% of unvaccinated parents, said full approval would make them more likely to get their children vaccinated.

Parents are strongly divided about vaccine or mask requirements.

The political polarization around COVID-19, the vaccine, and other related issues continues. Only half of all parents (53%) said students should be required to be vaccinated to attend school. However, Democrats (64%) and vaccinated adults (66%) expressed much more support for vaccine mandates in schools than Republicans (40%) and unvaccinated parents (38%).

A majority of parents support mask mandates if initiated by individual schools – and the Delta variant seems to be increasing the acceptance of masks.

Fully 61% of parents said individual schools should be allowed to require masks for students, while 39% said the decision whether to wear a mask should be the parents’ choice. Vaccinated adults (72%) and Democrats (71%) expressed more support for the rights of schools to require masks than unvaccinated parents (47%) and Republicans (48%).

However, in a finding that is nearly universal, 85% of parents said the spread of the Delta variant makes them more likely to support mask requirements in schools. That includes 97% of Democrats, 90% of vaccinated parents, 79% of unvaccinated parents, and 73% of Republicans.In a rare demonstration of consensus, parents from just about every geographic, demographic, and political community agree that the “safety of students” should be the top priority of their child’s school.

When asked to choose from a list of nine priority areas, all parents — vaccinated, unvaccinated, Democrats, and Republicans – chose “maximize the safety of students” over statements about community spread, equity, academics, full reopening of all buildings, adult safety, no restrictions like masking or distancing, sports, and mental health.

Another area of agreement among all groups is the type of safety procedures that would reassure them that their children were safe at school.

Wearing masks inside schools had the most support, followed by regularly sanitizing surfaces and keeping students physically distanced. There was less support for random or weekly COVID testing, separate cohorts, contact tracing, and staggered school days.

Parents say health and education officials — not elected officials — should make decisions about school policies like vaccination and mask requirements.

“People have been looking for ways to depoliticize COVID-19 and vaccinations,” Dr. Castrucci said, “and the way to do that may be through parents – who care more about their children’s safety than political ideologies. It’s parenting over politics.”

“The polling results are conclusive,” Dr. Luntz said. “Safe parents will have safe kids, and safe communities will have safe schools.”

Methodology

Pollster Frank Luntz on August 4-5 conducted a national survey of 1,100 parents of children either between the ages of 12-18 or are currently enrolled in elementary school, middle school, or high school. The demographic weights reflect U.S. Department of Education statistics on the nation’s parent population, including gender, age, ethnicity, public/private school enrollment, income, education level, and several other variables.