Background: It is expected that COVID-19 vaccines will become available in China by the end of 2020. Vaccinating children against COVID-19 would contribute to the control of the pandemic and the recovery of the global economy. For children under the age of 18 years, parents are usually the decision makers regarding their children's vaccination.
Objective: The goal of this study was to investigate parental acceptability of free COVID-19 vaccination for children under the age of 18 years in China.
Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a cross-sectional, closed online survey among 2053 factory workers in Shenzhen, China, implemented from September 1 to 7, 2020. Participants of the online survey were full-time employees aged 18 years or over who had resumed work in factories in Shenzhen. Factory workers in Shenzhen are required to receive physical examinations once a year. Eligible workers attending six designated physical examination sites were invited to complete an online survey. This study was based on a subsample of those who had at least one child under the age of 18 years (N=1052). After being briefed that COVID-19 vaccines developed by China are likely to be available by the end of 2020, participants were asked about their likelihood of having their children under the age of 18 years take up free COVID-19 vaccination provided by the government, if it existed. Multivariate logistic regression models were fitted to examine the associations of perceptions related to COVID-19 vaccination based on the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and exposure to information related to COVID-19 through social media with parental acceptability, after controlling for significant background characteristics.
Results: The prevalence of parents' acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination for their children was 72.6% (764/1052). After adjusting for significant background characteristics, positive attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.70, 95% CI 1.50-1.91), the perception that a family member would support them in having their children take up COVID-19 vaccination (ie, perceived subjective norm) (AOR 4.18, 95% CI 3.21-5.43), and perceived behavioral control to have the children take up COVID-19 vaccination (AOR 1.84, 95% CI 1.49-2.26) were associated with higher parental acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination. Regarding social media influence, higher exposure to positive information related to COVID-19 vaccination was associated with higher parental acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination (AOR 1.35, 95% CI 1.17-1.56). Higher exposure to negative information related to COVID-19 vaccination was negatively associated with the dependent variable (AOR 0.85, 95% CI 0.74-0.99).
Conclusions: Parents' acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination for their children under 18 years of age was high in China. The TPB is a useful framework to guide the development of future campaigns promoting COVID-19 vaccination targeting parents. Transparency in communicating about the vaccine development process and vaccine safety testing is important. Public health authorities should also address misinformation in a timely manner.
Keywords: COVID-19 vaccination; China; children under the age of 18 years; parental acceptability; social media influence; theory of planned behavior.
©Ke Chun Zhang, Yuan Fang, He Cao, Hongbiao Chen, Tian Hu, Ya Qi Chen, Xiaofeng Zhou, Zixin Wang. Originally published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting (http://pediatrics.jmir.org), 30.12.2020.