COVID-19 vaccination: 49% of Israeli parents say will jab teens – survey, Health Ministry says ruling on vaccination of 12- to 15-year-olds expected next week
About half of the general public will be willing to vaccinate their 12- to 15-year-old children if the Health Ministry recommends it, according to a survey released this week by the Meuhedet Health Maintenance Organization.
The Health Ministry is expected to announce its decision next week, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the ministry’s head of Public Health, told Army Radio on Thursday. Children as young as 12 could get the jab, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier this month.
Some 49% of the general public said they would bring their children to be vaccinated, and another 22% said they think they would come, according to the Meuhedet survey.
However, that percentage was much lower among the Arab and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sectors, where only about 38% of respondents said they would bring their children to get vaccinated.
“They said they would prefer to wait for other children to be vaccinated first,” said Tamar Fishman-Magen, a registered nurse and a member of Meuhedet’s Nursing Division.
Some 13% of parents in the general sector said they certainly did not intend to vaccinate their children.
Why would parents choose not to vaccinate?
Some 72% of parents in the general sector, 86% in the haredi sector and 17% in the Arab sector said they feared future harm to their children’s health from the vaccination. Most parents in the general sector said seeing research on the safety of vaccines for children would help convince them to get their children inoculated.
Among all sectors, the majority (66%-77%) said they would consult their child’s pediatrician before vaccinating.
The survey was conducted among 5,644 parents of children between the ages of 12 and 16. Hebrew speakers were sent the survey digitally via text message or email. Arabic speakers answered a phone survey.
The health fund conducted the survey because a much lower percentage of people aged under 20 sought a vaccination when that option opened to the public, and they wanted to prepare themselves for what might be if and when the Health Ministry recommends younger teen vaccination, Fishman-Magen told The Jerusalem Post.
So far, only 23.5% of eligible vaccine recipients under 20 have received the jab, compared with 77.2% of those aged 20-29.
In 92% of the households surveyed, at least one parent had been vaccinated, meaning that parents are more hesitant to inoculate their children than themselves.
The survey comes as the Health Ministry has been conducting several meetings around youth vaccination. A small percentage of people who received the Pfizer vaccine developed heart inflammation, known scientifically as myocarditis, a report last month showed. Health officials are trying to determine if there was a link between the inflammation and the inoculation.
Since the condition often goes away without complications and has not been found to be directly caused by the vaccine, health officials have not ruled out vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds.
The health funds expect to start vaccinating within approximately two weeks, Fishman-Magen told the Post, adding that if the Health Ministry gives the green light sooner, they will be ready to start.
She confirmed reports that the Health Ministry has been considering a recommendation to inoculate these youngsters with only one dose of the vaccine. But to the best of her knowledge, if approved, they are expected to receive two doses 21 days apart like the adults, Fishman-Magen said.
Dr. Yoav Yehezkelli of the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster at Tel Aviv University’s School of Public Health told the Post he does believe children need to be vaccinated now because they tend to get mild cases of the virus, and the rate of infection in Israel is extremely low.
“We should be carefully using these new vaccines on young people,” he said.
On Thursday, the Health Ministry reported only 14 new cases were diagnosed on Wednesday.
“At the present state, it is true that we only have very few children or even new cases of COVID-19, and in that sense, it does raise a question as to whether it is necessary to vaccinate,” Fishman-Magen said. “However, since we already know that the COVID-19 virus knows how to mutate and create variants that are different from the initial strain, and if it mutates enough, it could cause a more serious disease, I would like to see as many people, including children, vaccinated against the virus.”