A behavior change model to address caregiver hesitancy around COVID-19 vaccination in pediatrics

Vaccine. 2022 Sep 16;40(39):5664-5669. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2022.08.002. Epub 2022 Aug 5.


Introduction: Many families express hesitancy around immunizing their children against COVID-19. We sought to better understand the perspectives of vaccine hesitant caregivers, and develop targeted recommendations for health care workers and policymakers to engage in more effective vaccine discussions.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured telephone interviews with 23 caregivers recruited from a pediatric infectious diseases clinic, including a subset of patients referred to discuss vaccine hesitancy. Thematic analysis of the interviews identified themes that were mapped using behavior change models to identify perceived barriers and facilitators towards COVID-19 immunization.

Results: Barriers and facilitators were mapped to the WHO (World Health Organization) 3C's (confidence, complacency, convenience) model of vaccine hesitancy as well as the COM-B (capability, opportunity, motivation) behavior change model. Barriers included mistrust in authorities, misperception of the risk of COVID-19 in children, and perceived health contraindications and negative previous vaccine experiences. Facilitators included positive relationships with healthcare workers, the promise of a "return to normal", and societal pressures to immunize.

Conclusions: Efforts to increase vaccine uptake in the pediatric population must target specific barriers and facilitators to immunization expressed by caregivers. To address these concerns, we suggest: 1. Educating hesitant caregivers by highlighting the long-term pandemic effects on children and the threat of COVID-19 to children's health, 2. Building on the trust caregivers have in healthcare workers by involving frontline workers in public health policy, and 3. Harnessing the power of peer pressure by mobilization of societal pressures and establishing COVID-19 vaccination as the norm in children.

Keywords: Behavior change; COVID-19; Pediatrics; Vaccine hesitancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pediatrics*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines