Indirect protection of children from SARS-CoV-2 infection through parental vaccination

Science. 2022 Mar 11;375(6585):1155-1159. doi: 10.1126/science.abm3087. Epub 2022 Jan 27.


Children not vaccinated against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may still benefit from vaccines through protection from vaccinated contacts. We estimated the protection provided to children through parental vaccination with the BNT162b2 vaccine. We studied households without prior infection consisting of two parents and unvaccinated children, estimating the effect of parental vaccination on the risk of infection for unvaccinated children. We studied two periods separately-an early period (17 January 2021 to 28 March 2021; Alpha variant, two doses versus no vaccination) and a late period (11 July 2021 to 30 September 2021; Delta variant, booster dose versus two vaccine doses). We found that having a single vaccinated parent was associated with a 26.0 and a 20.8% decreased risk in the early and late periods, respectively, and having two vaccinated parents was associated with a 71.7 and a 58.1% decreased risk, respectively. Thus, parental vaccination confers substantial protection on unvaccinated children in the household.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • BNT162 Vaccine*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Risk Assessment
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • BNT162 Vaccine

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 vaccine booster shot
  • SARS-CoV-2 variants