Role of Parents’ Perceived Risk and Responsibility in Deciding on Children’s COVID-19 Vaccination


We examined associations between parents’ reports for whether their children had been vaccinated against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and parents’ perceptions of the vaccine’s long-term risk, as well as their own sense of responsibility on deciding to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children.


During the period when the Omicron variant was dominant (February–March 2022), we surveyed parents from a nationally representative, probability-based Internet panel about vaccination of their school-aged children, perceptions that the vaccine’s long-term risk exceeds risks without vaccination (henceforth: comparative long-term risk), their tendency to feel more responsible if their child became sick from vaccination than when unvaccinated (henceforth: anticipated responsibility), and their own vaccination status. We used multivariate analyses to assess associations of children’s COVID-19 vaccination with parental comparative long-term risk perceptions, anticipated responsibility, parents’ vaccination status, and demographics.


Among 1715 parent respondents (71% of eligible), 45% perceived vaccine-related comparative long-term risk and 18% perceived greater anticipated responsibility from vaccination than no vaccination. After accounting for parental vaccination, parents who were more concerned about comparative long-term risk and who reported greater anticipated responsibility were 6% (95% confidence interval, −0.09 to −0.03; P < .001) and 19% (95% confidence interval, −0.15 to −0.23; P < .001) less likely to have vaccinated their children, respectively. Findings were driven by vaccinated parents.


Parents’ perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine’s long-term comparative risk and their greater anticipated responsibility for children getting sick if vaccinated (versus not) were associated with lower vaccine uptake among children of vaccinated parents.

The full study can be viewed at Pediatrics.

Liu, Y., Bruine de Buin, W., Kapteyn, A., & Szilagyi, P. G. (2023). Role of Parents’ Perceived Risk and Responsibility in Deciding on Children’s COVID-19 Vaccination. Pediatrics, e2022058971.