Around half of children and young people aged nine to 18 are willing or eager to get a Covid vaccination, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine which is published by The Lancet, surveyed 27,910 students from 180 schools between May and July 2021. This was before the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that 12-15-year-olds should receive one dose of the vaccine in September.
The study found that half (50.1%) were either willing or eager to opt-in to have a vaccination, with 37% undecided and 12.9% who would opt-out.
Students who would opt-out of the vaccine or were undecided were more likely to come from deprived socio-economic contexts, with more coming from home rentals than home ownership contexts and with school locations in areas of greater deprivation.
The authors of the study therefore said that strategies to increase uptake among these students would be needed.
The study said: ‘If government vaccination strategies move towards vaccinating younger school-aged students, efforts to increase vaccination uptake may be necessary.
‘Compared with students who would opt-in, those who were vaccine hesitant had greater indicators of social deprivation and felt a lack of community cohesion by not feeling a sense of belonging at their school. There were indications that those students who would opt-out had higher levels of marginalisation and mistrust.
‘If programmes are rolled out, focus on hesitant younger students will be important, targeting more marginalised and deprived young people with information from trusted sources utilising social media; improving access to vaccination centres with provision both in and outside school; and addressing fears and worries about the effects of the vaccine.’
In August, just 40% of primary school parents said they would definitely want their children to have a Covid-19 vaccine if offered.
The Department of Health and Social Care has previously said parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by healthcare staff for the Covid vaccination programme for 12-15-year-olds, in line with existing school vaccination programmes.