Unvaccinated Adolescents' COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions
Implications for Public Health Messaging
Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health (2023). doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.05.023
Posted on rand.org Jul 6, 2023
COVID-19 vaccine uptake remains low for US adolescents and contributes to excess morbidity and mortality. Most research has assessed parental intention to vaccinate their children. We explored differences between vaccine-acceptant and vaccine-hesitant unvaccinated US adolescents using national survey data.
A nonprobability, quota-based sample of adolescents, aged 13-17 years, was recruited through an online survey panel in April 2021. One thousand nine hundred twenty seven adolescents were screened for participation and the final sample included 985 responses. We assessed responses from unvaccinated adolescents (n=831). Our primary measure was COVID-19 vaccination intent ("vaccine-acceptant" defined as "definitely will" get a COVID-19 vaccine and any other response classified as "vaccine-hesitant") and secondary measures included reasons for intending or not intending to get vaccinated and trusted sources of COVID-19 vaccine information. We calculated descriptive statistics and chi-square tests to explore differences between vaccine-acceptant and vaccine-hesitant adolescents.
Most (n=831; 70.9%) adolescents were hesitant, with more hesitancy observed among adolescents with low levels of concern about COVID-19 and high levels of concern about side effects of COVID-19 vaccination. Among vaccine-hesitant adolescents, reasons for not intending to get vaccinated included waiting for safety data and having parents who would make the vaccination decision. Vaccine-hesitant adolescents had a lower number of trusted information sources than vaccine-acceptant adolescents.
Differences identified between vaccine-acceptant and vaccine-hesitant adolescents can inform message content and dissemination. Messages should include accurate, age-appropriate information about side effects and risks of COVID-19 infection. Prioritizing dissemination of these messages through family members, state and local government officials, and healthcare providers may be most effective.