NEWTOWN, PA — Adolescents and their parents are feeling more hopeful and determined in this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to findings from a multi-wave survey conducted by Unity® Consortium. The data show both adolescents and their parents are feeling less stressed and more comfortable participating in routine activities, likely fueled by increased levels of vaccination against COVID-19. They also noted that the pandemic has helped them see the importance of vaccines for overall health. However, concerns about vaccine safety continue to linger.
While they feel safer, more than half of adolescents and parents expressed concern about vaccine safety. Fifty-eight percent and 62 percent of teens and parents, respectively, cited concerns about potential side effects as a barrier to vaccination.
Parents and adolescents recognize the impact of social media on their perceptions of vaccine safety. Parents have expressed concern about social media for some time, but there has been a recent spike in concern.
“It’s encouraging to see people feeling hopeful. Stress and anxiety remain relatively high but lower than a few months ago,” said Judy Klein, president of Unity Consortium. “Part of what we believe contributes to stress levels is the confusing and often scary misinformation about vaccines on social media.”
Both parents and adolescents recognize the importance of vaccines for teen health. Throughout the pandemic, more than eight in ten teens and parents generally agreed that routinely recommended vaccines are important for their health.
“Parents see the role vaccines play in their teen’s overall health,” said Klein. “Many adolescents fell behind on recommended vaccinations during the pandemic, and now is the time to catch up on missed immunizations, before school and other activities begin.”
With so much misleading information available, it’s important that parents and teens seek reliable information from trusted sources. The survey showed that 65 percent of parents seek information from their doctor or healthcare provider.
“It’s important that parents and teens rely on credible sources of information about their health,” said Amy Middleman, MD, MSEd, MPH, Chief, Adolescent Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and co-leader of the research project. “Your healthcare provider is one of the best sources of health information. And teens should also feel comfortable chatting independently with a healthcare provider or parent/guardians about any health concerns.”
Although nearly 60 percent of parents surveyed have received their COVID-19 vaccines, a significant percentage have not. Of those parents who have not vaccinated their teens:
- A third report they do not plan to get their adolescents vaccinated
- More than 1 in 5 plan to wait until many other people have been vaccinated, and
- About 1 in 10 will only vaccinate their teen if required for school
When asked, 70 percent of surveyed parents said they would have their child or teen receive other vaccinations at the same time they receive their COVID-19 vaccination as a means to get caught up on vaccines they may have missed. Of those not willing, about 4 in 10 said they were concerned about the safety of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time.
“The CDC has issued guidance that COVID-19 vaccines may be given concurrently with other recommended vaccines. Parents should discuss the best approach to catching up and keeping their adolescents up to date on all recommended vaccines with their healthcare providers,” said Dr. Middleman.
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