In an article recently published in the journal Jama network openThey assess how the sufficiency and credibility of information provided about the 2019 (COVID-19) coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines were related to parental attitudes toward vaccination of children in South Korea.
Examination: Parental acceptance of child COVID-19 vaccination and its association with information sufficiency and credibility in South Korea. Image credit: MIA studio / Shutterstock.com
The absence of important information due to ineffective communication leads to a lack of information, in this case, inadequate knowledge of the health risks of the COVID-19 vaccine. This can reduce confidence and prevent a person from taking immediate action. The same situation occurs when a person does not have access to credible information.
Together, lack of information and credibility can change people’s perceptions and attitudes in deciding for or against a public health recommendation, such as whether to vaccinate children against COVID-19.
When the South Korean government rolled out COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged five to 11, there was a high rate of reluctance among parents to vaccinate their children for COVID-19, despite pediatricians’ recommendations. Many of these parents had genuine concerns about the short- and long-term adverse effects of vaccines and their effectiveness in their children.
About the exam
In this study, researchers administered an online survey to parents who spoke Korean and had at least one child in grades one through six, with parents and children enrolled in a 1:1 ratio for analysis.
The anonymous survey recruited people nationwide via web-based notices and aimed to examine parents’ acceptance of childhood COVID-19 vaccination. Specifically, it quantified the sufficiency and credibility of vaccine-related information with parents’ decision-making in favor of the COVID-19 vaccination and their attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccination.
The team sought consent from respondents electronically and ensured that all data collected through self-reports remained anonymous.
Results of the study
While the survey included more than 113,510 participants, the study analysis had more than 113,450 responses. The majority of parents, about 38% of all survey respondents, were not ready to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
Conversely, around 29% wanted to wait before making a choice, and 22.9% were not immediately interested in vaccinating their children right away, and wanted to wait before making a final decision. So these two types of parents are easy targets to convince and convert.
Only 6.5% of parents were willing to vaccinate their children at the earliest possible age. These findings demonstrate the urgent need for concerted efforts to convince more parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
In this regard, it is essential to provide sufficient information about vaccines against COVID-19. The survey results showed that respondents who found the vaccine information adequate were almost three times more likely to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to those who found the vaccine information inadequate. The researchers noted that sufficient information was positively correlated with vaccine acceptance.
Similarly, respondents who found the vaccine information credible were nearly seven times more likely to vaccinate their children than those who considered it unreliable.
Unfortunately, only 20.3% of parents found the information about the vaccine against COVID-19 credible. The association of information credibility with vaccine acceptance was indirect; however, it influenced parents’ attitudes about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
It is worth noting that the spread of invalid or conflicting information about COVID-19 vaccines in the media, a phenomenon called “infodemic”, has probably become an obstacle in the fight against COVID-19. These misinformation campaigns increased reluctance among many parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
The current study highlighted the problem of low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among children due to the lack of adequate and reliable information available to parents.
Therefore, positive messages about the COVID-19 vaccine could be an effective intervention. To this end, public health departments should disseminate more evidence-based health recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines in the media.
Pediatricians are parents’ most trusted source of vaccine information. So these doctors can help provide information relevant to their child’s specific situation and encourage more parents to vaccinate their children, ultimately increasing uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Lee, M., Seo, S., Choi, S., et al. (2022). Parental acceptance of child COVID-19 vaccination and its association with information sufficiency and credibility in South Korea. JAMA Network Open 5(12). doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.46624