With the U.S. coronavirus vaccination rate among adults slowing and attention turning to the young, a new survey by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers finds that mothers were significantly more reluctant to vaccinate their children than fathers, with the highest resistance coming from mothers under 36 years old.
Twenty-seven percent of mothers were opposed to vaccines compared to 11 percent of fathers. Resistance was highest (31 percent) among moms between the ages of 18-35 who say they are “extremely unlikely” to inoculate their kids compared to 25 percent of older moms who oppose vaccinations.
The findings come as U.S. health authorities are trying to get enough people vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to achieve herd immunity. President Biden has set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one dose to 70 percent of U.S. adults by July 4. The survey found that among fathers, age appears to have little impact on vaccine hesitancy and resistance, with nearly two-thirds (64 percent) reporting they are likely to vaccinate their young. Researchers didn’t ask respondents why they were for or against their children getting vaccinated. But resistance could negatively impact the nation’s overall vaccination rate since mothers tend to hold more sway over their children’s healthcare than fathers.
Those younger than 21 make up about 25 percent of the U.S. population. If many of them get vaccinated, it raises the chance of herd immunity. But the survey found increasing pockets of hesitancy or stiff resistance among parents without a college degree or earning less than $25,000 a year.