Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The OxWell School Survey 2021 highlights that younger children and adolescents are the least willing to have the COVID-19 vaccination. These young people come from the most socioeconomically deprived backgrounds, feel less belonging to their school community and think they have probably had COVID-19 already.

Research conducted at the University of Oxford, with collaborators from UCL and the University of Cambridge found that 36% of 9-year-olds are willing to have a COVID-19 vaccination, compared to 51% of 13-year-olds, and 78% of 17-year-olds. The study included over 27,000 students from 180 schools across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Merseyside.

Published in EClinicalMedicine, this is the only large-scale study to ask children and adolescents about their willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The research highlights a need for more resources to help young people feel confident and encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine, should it be made available and offered to them.

Associate Professor Mina Fazel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, said:

 

'Our survey findings show that children become more willing to have the COVID-19 vaccine as they get older. Younger children more often defer to their parents, or primary caregivers, for decisions about healthcare and vaccination, but our data shows how important it is for good quality, accessible information to be provided to better enable our younger populations to understand more about the COVID-19 vaccine and its effects.'

The researchers conclude that it is important to provide information to those communities and individuals who are not naturally connected with their schools, as well as making sure that the vaccination can be offered in a variety of different locations to improve access to those who might find it difficult to get to vaccination sites because of location or timing constraints. There may be some young people who value their privacy and may prefer to be able to have a vaccination without letting others around them know about their choice to get vaccinated.

As vaccination programmes for COVID-19 are rolled out to school populations, more available resources are needed to ensure school students feel the vaccine is safe. In addition, health messaging about vaccine safety and its effects on children:

  • needs to be targeted to both school-aged children, and also to their parents/caregivers,
  • must be delivered and provided in a format, and in locations, where diverse members of the population will be able to see it,
  • and should be effectively shared by trusted sources on social media, as survey findings show that the young people who are most hesitant about having the vaccine use social media more.

Dr Simon R White, Senior Research Associate, University of Cambridge, said:

 

‘Our data shows that there are similarities with adult populations in that those from more deprived socioeconomic backgrounds are more hesitant to have the vaccine. Therefore, targeting parents and caregivers with information and materials, which specifically address the worries they might have for their children is important.’  

Professor Russell Viner, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said:

 

'Our findings suggest it will be essential to reach out and engage with young people from poorer families and communities with lower levels of trust in vaccination and the health system.  A school-based vaccination program, as planned in England, is an important way of helping reduce these health disparities. However, the teenagers who are least engaged with their school communities may need additional support for us to achieve the highest uptake levels.'

Funding received from the Westminster Foundation to the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Oxford and Thames Valley and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, both at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

To read the full paper, Willingness of children and adolescents to have a COVID-19 vaccination: results of a large whole schools' survey in England.

Similar stories

Self-monitoring of blood pressure does not result in the earlier detection of high blood pressure in pregnancy nor does it improve blood pressure control in those with pregnancy hypertension

Self-monitoring of blood pressure during pregnancy neither results in earlier detection of high blood pressure, nor helps with blood pressure control in those who are pregnant, suggest the results of two new papers based on research from researchers supported by the NIHR ARC OxTV at the University of Oxford and King’s College London.

Excess weight in childhood has significant short- and long-term economic costs

Researchers from Oxford Population Health’s Health Economics Research Centre (HERC) and supported by the NIHR ARC OxTV, have recently published a comprehensive review of the evidence on the economic impacts of childhood excess weight. The results, published in the journal Children, highlight both the significant economic impacts of overweight and obesity in children, and the priority areas for future research.

Unlocking the value of health data in the midst of a pandemic: OpenSAFELY

Developed rapidly to answer urgent clinical questions about COVID-19, research generated using the OpenSAFELY software platform – the world’s largest secure analytics platform for electronic health records - had a near immediate impact on both healthcare and policy. And set a new standard for accountable, open, and safe computational data science using electronic health records.

New study: can a pioneering online programme help parents reduce anxiety in young children?

Oxford Population Health researchers, in part supported by the ARC OxTV, are leading a cost-effectiveness analysis of a new online, parent-led intervention for young children at risk of anxiety disorders.

Three out of four people with heart failure could be diagnosed sooner, potentially improving quality of life and reducing costs to the healthcare system

Researchers from the University of Oxford have today reported that only 1 in 4 people diagnosed with heart failure received a simple, recommended blood test that could have resulted in an earlier diagnosis at a more treatable stage.

Arm and shoulder disability and pain after breast cancer surgery reduced by exercise

The debilitating arm and shoulder disability and pain that some women who have had breast cancer surgery experience as a side effect of their surgery can be reduced by following a physiotherapy-led exercise programme after their operation, a new study has found.