A majority of Jewish Israeli parents — 57 percent — would agree to inoculate their 5- to 11-year-olds against the coronavirus if the FDA approves a vaccine for this age group, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday.
The Bar-Ilan University survey found “significant differences” in attitudes among the 894 Jewish Israeli parents polled online, with men, parents older than 40, those with academic degrees and those with higher incomes all more likely to back vaccination, the school said.
Religious denomination, marital status and geographical location within Israel did not play a part.
Parents whose children received the flu vaccine last winter were also far more in favor of vaccinating their children against COVID-19 (68%) than those whose offspring did not (48%).
Sixty-one percent of parents who themselves were vaccinated against the coronavirus said they would vaccinate their young children, compared with just 6% of parents who themselves had not received the shot.
And those with older children aged 12-15 who have already been vaccinated expressed greater intention to also vaccinate younger siblings.
Of those surveyed, just 27% of parents said they would vaccinate their young children within less than a month of the potential rollout, while 27% said within one to three months and 24% said they would wait longer (17% would vaccinate within four to 12 months while 7% would wait over a year).
Of those who said they would not vaccinate their children immediately or at all, 66% expressed concerns about vaccine safety, 61% were worried about potential serious side effects from the vaccine, while 57% “expressed fear that clinical trials and the approval process were carried out too quickly for political reasons.”
The university said that some parents also said that they believed COVID-19 does not pose a danger to children. While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, more than 5 million children in the US have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 460 have died, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cases in children have risen dramatically as the Delta variant sweeps across the world.
The researchers also asked about incentives, with 60% saying that a Green Pass that would allow quarantine-free travel would encourage them to vaccinate their children, and 50% saying that vaccines within the education system would also be a positive step.
Most respondents said that cash incentives or fines would not work to encourage vaccination.
The survey was conducted between September 23 and October 3 and no margin of error was given. Many experts consider online surveys to be less reliable than other forms of polling.
The poll did not include non-Jewish respondents. Arab Israelis, who make up about 20 percent of the population, have generally shown more hesitancy to inoculate than Jewish Israelis.
The results of the poll were released after Pfizer said last week it submitted initial trial data on vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 against the coronavirus to United States regulators. The company said it was not yet seeking emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but could do so in the coming weeks.
When the request is made, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to take at least a number of weeks to examine the data before granting emergency use authorization.
Pfizer said that it studied a vaccine with a much lower dose — a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now — in 2,268 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids.
Pfizer said that its vaccine works for that age group and that after children age 5 to 11 got their second dose during testing, they developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots.
Following Pfizer’s announcement on the effectiveness of its vaccine in young children, a senior Israeli health official said last week that the country will wait for FDA approval before giving COVID-19 vaccinations to younger children, as it did before it starting vaccinating those aged 12-16.
“We are waiting for regulatory approval,” Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the ministry’s chief of public health services, told Army Radio.
Alroy-Preis said that the matter of vaccinating young children was different from the third booster vaccine shot, which Israel started administering before the FDA even discussed the matter, because “we saw from the data that the vaccine’s protection was waning.”
In July, Israel began to administer coronavirus vaccines to children aged 5-11 who have serious background illnesses that could make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.