Safety fears deter parents from clinic visits for vaccinations during pandemic, says survey

Pediatrician makes vaccination to small boy

Parents’ willingness to vaccinate children has been boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but safety fears mean few are willing to take their child to a medical centre to receive jabs, according to a survey from GlaxoSmithKline. 

The UK-wide survey was conducted by Opinion Matters on behalf of GSK in May this year and respondents were all parents of children aged between nine months and 10 years old. 

GSK said that of 2,511 respondents, 45% believe that vaccinations have become more essential as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority (73%) of parents were happy for their children to receive vaccinations during the outbreak. 

But just 27% of parents are now comfortable taking their child to a medical centre for vaccinations, down from 91% before the pandemic. 

The survey found high favourability of vaccines, with 93% of parents happy for their children to be vaccinated generally and 29% more likely now than before the pandemic to take up vaccinations for their children or themselves. 

But despite this, of the 22% of respondents whose child had a vaccination appointment scheduled during lockdown, 22% said their appointment had been postponed and 23% had chosen not to go because of the pandemic. 

Of the 73% of parents who said they would be happy for their child to be vaccinated during lockdown, many were open to taking their children to untraditional locations for vaccinations, if they were available.  

The most popular alternatives were a nurse home visit (55%), a drive-through facility (50%), their local pharmacy (44%) or a mobile medical centre (46%). 

Parents who were not happy for their children to be vaccinated during the outbreak said they were most concerned about exposing their family (67%) or themselves (42%) to COVID-19. 

The survey also found that 81% of the respondents trusted the NHS as a source of information about vaccines either completely or to a great extent. 

Dr Philip Cruz, UK Vaccines Medical Director, GSK, said: “Parents are confident about the value of vaccines but there’s anxiety about attending medical facilities during the pandemic.  

“As the NHS continues to deal with coronavirus, it’s important that parents feel confident in the safety measures put in place by medical centres, in line with public health and infection control guidelines.  

“It could also be interesting to continue to explore innovative and untraditional locations for vaccine-delivery. Now is not the time for children to miss scheduled immunisations.”