This qualitative study explored public attitudes to COVID-19 vaccines in children, including reasons for support or opposition to them.
This was a qualitative study using online focus groups and interviews.
Group and individual online interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 24 adults in the United Kingdom to explore their views on the issue of COVID-19 vaccination in children. Data were analysed using a framework approach.
COVID-19 vaccination in children was framed as a complex problem (a ‘minefield’). Six themes emerged to explain participants views: (1) uncertainty over whether children can catch, transmit or be severely harmed by COVID-19; (2) lower risk tolerance for unknown longer term effects of the vaccine in children; (3) association of the vaccine programme with government’s handling of the pandemic; (4) local social norms as a driver of hesitancy; (5) vaccinating children as a way to protect vulnerable adults; and (6) children’s vaccination as parental choice.
COVID-19 vaccination in children is perceived by members of the public as a complex issue, and many are torn or hesitant about the idea. Public health communications will need to combat this hesitancy if vaccine uptake for children is to be pursued as a public health policy.

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