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Vaccine Hesitancy Trends from 2019 to 2022 Evaluated

As vaccine hesitancy grows, fewer children are receiving routine childhood vaccines.

Vaccine hesitancy is increasing, and caregivers of hospitalized children were less concerned about influenza than during pre-pandemic times, according to research presented at IDWeek 2022, held October 19 to 23 in Washington, D.C. The intention to vaccinate children against COVID-19 is also “suboptimal.”

Vaccine hesitancy is a problem that widely affects public health—in particular, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Influenza vaccine uptake is seeing a similar trend, with fewer people getting vaccinated.

Investigators conducted a repeated, cross-sectional study in both English and Spanish to evaluate trends in vaccine hesitancy with COVID-19 vaccines, influenza vaccines, and other routine childhood immunizations. Researchers aimed to gauge influenza and COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and VH in hospitalized children at a pediatric medical institution. The children of the participating caregivers ranged in age from 6 months to 18 years old.

Participants were enrolled across 3 flu seasons, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022. A Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines survey was given to measure vaccine hesitancy, with a score of 50 or more indicating vaccine hesitancy.

Most parents (45%) were Hispanic/Latino, 35% were White, and 20% were Black/African American. In the first flu season, 94% of children were up-to-date with routine childhood vaccines; 91% were up-to-date in seasons 2 and 3.

Based on survey scores, 13% of parents were vaccine hesitant in season 1, 17% were vaccine hesitant in season 2, and 19% were vaccine hesitant in season 3. Approximately 70% had, or planned to have, their children vaccinated against influenza.

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After the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers were less likely to believe that the flu can be dangerous to children and less likely to agree that children over 6 months old should receive the influenza vaccine every year.

“Our results suggest a trend that [vaccine hesitancy] may be increasing,” the researchers concluded.

Reference

1. Orbea M, Cunningham R, Healy C, Boom J, Bocchini C. Influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and routine childhood vaccines – trends in vaccine hesitancy in hospitalized children before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented at: IDWeek 2022; October 19-23, 2022, Washington, D.C. Poster 580.


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