While health officials urged parents to be patient as they try to schedule appointments in the coming days, the larger question is how many parents will seek out vaccinations for young children. Some parents, even those who are vaccinated, are worried about giving children a brand-new vaccine, especially since most coronavirus cases in youngsters are mild.
According to a survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 27 percent of parents are eager to get a vaccine for their younger children as soon as one is authorized, while a third say they will wait to see how the vaccine is working. Three in 10 parents say they will definitely not get the vaccine for their teenagers or children.
Members of the C.D.C. committee who recommended the vaccines noted that they planned to get their own children and grandchildren vaccinated. They cited data showing that for every nine children vaccinated, one Covid infection would be prevented. Several members also said they were reassured by the safety data for the vaccine and gravely concerned about the toll Covid-19 had taken on children and their caregivers.
To date, nearly two million children ages 5 to 11 in the United States are known to have been infected with the virus, and 8,300 have been hospitalized. A third of those hospitalized were admitted to intensive care units, and at least 170 have died. More than 120,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or caregiver to the disease.
“I have a child in this age group, and I’m going to take my child to get this vaccine,” said Veronica McNally, a committee member who leads the Franny Strong Foundation, a childhood vaccine advocacy group in West Bloomfield, Mich. “To say that this disease does not impact kids is not an accurate statement.”
Dr. Matthew F. Daley, a committee member and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research in Aurora, Colo., said it was important that doctors listen to parents’ concerns about the safety and potential side effects of the vaccine.
“It’s understandable you have questions and concerns,” Dr. Daley said, speaking to parents just before the committee voted. “I would encourage you to talk to your child’s pediatrician. They know your child, they know your family, and they can walk you through this.”