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By: Oksana Kishchuk

Vaccinating a large majority of Canadian adults against COVID-19 has been no small task. And vaccinating children in Canada will be no different. Just last weekend one hurdle was eliminated when Health Canada confirmed Pfizer-BioNTech submitted preliminary data on their study of the vaccine for children 5-12. But another challenge awaits.

We’ve been tracking vaccine hesitancy among Canadian adults for quite some time, and our latest data continues to show what we’ve been seeing for the past few months. A very, very slow decline in the hesitant (now at 6%), and refusers (now at 7%), and an acceptance rate hovering somewhere just under 90% (now at 87%).

How do parents feel about vaccinating their children, and not themselves?

Among parents with children aged 12-17 (who already have the vaccine available for their children), acceptance of having their kids vaccinated is at 79% (though note the small base size of n=157). The hesitant/undecided sit at 15% and those in the refusal group at 6%.

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The percentage of Canadians already/willing to be vaccinated themselves is higher than the percentage of parents (of children aged 12-17) who already have, or are willing to, vaccinate their children. That said, parents of those 12 and under are the most hesitant.

For these parents (who have a larger sample size of n=285) acceptance rates are closer to two thirds (68%). 15% are hesitant or undecided, and 17% fall in the refusers category.

Sample size limitations withstanding, these numbers are notably lower than vaccine acceptance among adults inoculating themselves, a far cry from the 87% among Canadians adults who are vaccinated/will be taking their first/second shot ASAP.

But context is important. For parents of those under 12, the process for approval and then appointment booking is in early stages. Flashback to when Canadian adults were in that same position, and acceptance rates are looking pretty similar between adults and parents of those under 12, if not better, for parents.

For example, in November of last year, when the conversations of vaccine approvals for adults were top of mind, only 33% of adults were already vaccinated/willing to take ASAP. Compared to the 46% of parents who are willing to do so for their children under 12 today, at a similar point in the process.

UPSHOT According to Oksana Kishchuk: On one hand, you could say that we have a long way to go by increasing acceptance among parents for vaccinating their children under 12.

But on the other, it seems like the high vaccination rates among adults and public health efforts aimed at increased vaccine acceptability are paying off, and moving parents closer to acceptance, even earlier than us adults last Winter.

Vaccinating 5–12-year-olds will be the next big task in increasing the vaccination rate in Canada. We are still in early stages, but our data shows that we are on the right track with acceptability. We will continue to monitor this sentiment among parents, to see how it tracks against Canadian adults, and how it will impact vaccination rates in Canada overall.

METHODOLOGY

This survey was conducted with 1,500 Canadian adults from October 1st to 4th 2021. The sample of parents of children 12-17 was n=157. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 7.8%, 19 times out of 20. The sample of parents of children under 12 was n=285. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 5.8%, 19 times out of 20.

The survey was conducted using a random sample of panelists invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.

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