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Parental Worry About COVID-19 Infection Eases Slightly

Parental Worry About COVID-19 Infection Eases Slightly

Story Highlights

  • 45% of parents worry child will get COVID-19, down from September's 53%
  • 37% of parents worry they will contract COVID-19 themselves
  • Parents of vaccinated kids worry more than those with unvaccinated kids

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. parents are less worried that their child will get COVID-19 than they were three months ago, while their concern about contracting it themselves is steady at a lower level.

The percentage of parents with children aged 18 and younger who are "very" or "somewhat" worried that their offspring will be infected with COVID-19 has dipped from 53% in September to 48% in October and 45% in the latest reading. At the same time, parents' concern about their own risk of getting COVID-19 has hovered near 40% and is currently 37%.

Line graph. Parents' worry about their child and themselves getting COVID-19 in September, October and November/December 2021. Their worry about their child contracting COVID-19 has fallen from 53% in September to 48% in October and is 45% in the latest reading, from November/December. Over the same period, worry about getting COVID-19 personally has been steady around 40% and is now 37%.

The latest data are from Gallup's probability-based COVID-19 web panel survey, conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 5, as details about the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 were first becoming available, and many nations -- including the U.S. -- imposed new travel restrictions in response.

Being Vaccinated Doesn't Immunize Against Worry

The survey was fielded about one month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. Yet, parents' getting their own young children vaccinated does not appear to be the reason behind their decreased worry. This is likely because the people most worried about COVID-19 are among the most likely to want to get vaccinated. Indeed, just as Americans' concern about catching COVID-19 is much higher among those who are vaccinated against the virus, so too is parents' concern for their children. That is, 63% of parents whose children have been vaccinated against COVID-19 express worry about their child getting it, but just 17% of those with unvaccinated children are equally worried.

The existence of the vaccine in general, regardless of whether their own child is vaccinated, could be a factor in parents' decreased worry, with some Americans believing the vaccine could reduce COVID-19 transmission in society more generally. Or it may be related to the fact that COVID-19 causes less severe illness and fewer hospitalizations for children than adults.

Worry is also higher among parents of younger rather than older children. Nearly half of parents of children aged 5 to 11 are worried about their child getting COVID-19, compared with 35% and 38% of parents of 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- to 18-year-olds, respectively. Vaccines have been available longer for those in the two older age groups.

Parents' Worry About Child Getting COVID-19, by Child's Age and Vaccination Status
How worried are you that your child will get the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Very/Somewhat worried
Age of child
5 to 11 47
12 to 15 35
16 to 18 38
Child's vaccination status
Child is vaccinated 63
Do not plan to have child vaccinated 17
gallup, Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2021

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