Parents More Likely to Vaccinate Children Against COVID-19 After Talking to Trusted Parent


Investigators found that providing parents with a hypothetical scenario outlining why they should immunize their children against COVID-19 was effective in improving vaccination rates.

Individuals with children who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 were most likely to vaccinate their child after they were read a hypothetical scenario involving other parents’ reasoning for vaccination, according to a study from investigators at the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago published in Pediatrics.

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The scenario was as follows, according to a press release:

“You hear from other parents you trust that they have vaccinated their children against COVID-19. Some of them say that they weren’t sure at first about whether the vaccine is safe for kids. But they ended up deciding that it was the best way to fight COVID-19, and the vaccination went fine. They want to keep their kids protected.”

Investigators found that the scenario was most effective among unvaccinated parents and parents who are Black, among whom data have shown to be the most hesitant to vaccinate their children, according to the authors of the current study.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately negative impact on historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups, and we wanted to understand if some message types would be better at reducing the inequities in vaccination intentions among parents,” Marie Heffernan, PhD, assistant professor at Mary Ann & J Milburn Smith Child Health Outcomes in research and the Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a press release. “In our study overall, Black parents were least likely to intend to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Our findings that the ‘trusted parents’ and ‘safe and tested’ message types increased Black parents’ intentions to vaccinate their children could inform vaccination campaigns and hopefully help to effectively reach these families.”

Investigators said that all individuals, regardless of race or ethnicity, were more likely to vaccinate their children when they received both the “trusted parent” and “safe and tested” messages together.

Additionally, investigators found that the message about the vaccine being well-tolerated with few adverse events, delivered by the child’s physician or a nurse, was not effective. They found that the intention to vaccinate among those who did not vaccinate their children did not differ from the control message, which included information about the anticipated timeline for authorization of the vaccines in children.

Data were collected through the Voices of Child Health in Chicago Parent Panel Survey, which is a tri-annual survey of parents from all 77 neighborhoods in Chicago. The survey was administered from October through November 2021, which was when the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines in children aged 5 to 11 years. The EUA had not occurred for children under 5 years of age during the time of the survey.

Investigators randomly assigned parents who said at least 1 child was not vaccinated to read 1 of the 4 messages about COVID-19. The categories included trusted parents; safe and tested; well-tolerated; and control.

The analyses were based on responses from 898 parents about 1453 children who had not received a COVID-19 vaccine by the time of the survey.

The parent-child demographic did not differ significantly between the message groups, according to investigators.


Study identifies messages about vaccinating children against COVID-19 that resonate best with vaccine-hesitant parents. EurekAlert. News release. May 5, 2023. Accessed May 9, 2023.

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