Survey: Only 30% of parents will vaccinate children under 5 ‘as soon as possible,’ ahead of impending FDA approval

Local doctors debunk vaccine misinformation, say kids are more likely to get myocarditis from COVID than its shot

MADISON, Wis.– One week from Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to consider a nationwide rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5, meaning it could be available in Wisconsin by the end of the month.

While doctors say the vaccine will be a huge relief for families that have been waiting to protect their youngest kids, some parents — even those who received the vaccine themselves — remain hesitant.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey found only 30% of parents plan to vaccinate their kids as soon as possible, citing age and safety are their top concerns.

“I think some parents are waiting to see other kids getting vaccinated and to see the vaccine become more mainstream for this age group,” said Mo Kharbat, SSM Health’s vice president of ambulatory services.

Kharbat’s concern is the vaccine has yet to become mainstream for another age group: 5 to 11-year-olds. As of February 1, one in three had received one dose.

“The fact that kids under 5 have no protection against COVID when it comes to a vaccine is a problem,” he added.

Kharbat said that while kids are less likely to die from the virus, they’re still getting infected in large numbers. In total, 10.6 million have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, and 287 children under the age of 5 have died.

“We still don’t know everything there is to know about COVID, these long-COVID symptoms, and what other impacts there will be,” Dr. David Ottenbaker, Kharbat’s colleague at SSM said. “The bottom line is, these are very safe vaccines.”

While long-term effects are another concern for parents, as well as the rare heart defect myocarditis, Ottenbaker said kids are actually 10 times more likely to get that condition as a result of COVID, not its vaccine.

If approved by the FDA, children under 5 will only receive 3 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine, which is one-tenth the dose adults are given.

“These vaccines are important, they’re safe, and if I had children that age, I’d definitely go forward and get them vaccinated,” Ottenbaker said.

Neither SSM or UW Health clinics are currently scheduling vaccine appointments for children under 5, but Kharbat has several meetings this week to discuss the eventual rollout.

In the meantime, everyone 5 & up can get vaccinated. Click here to make your initial, second shot, or booster appointment today.