A growing number of K-12 parents have or intend to vaccinate their children against Covid-19 as a new school year gets underway amid the delta variant surge, a new Gallup poll finds—but approximately 40% of parents still remain opposed to at least some students wearing masks in school.
The Gallup poll found the share of parents of 12- to 15-year-olds whose children have gotten the shot or who plan to vaccinate them increased from 55% in July to 58% in August, while the share of pro-vaccine parents of 16- to 18-year-olds went up from 61% to 67%.
The poll, conducted August 16-22 among 674 parents, found that 42% of 12-15 parents and 33% of 16-18 parents still do not plan to vaccinate their children.
Gallup also found that 48% of parents support mask mandates in school for all students and 11% support them for only unvaccinated students, versus 41% who say they should not be required for any student.
The 59% of parents who support some kind of student mask mandate is largely unchanged from the 57% of parents in a July Gallup poll who supported masks for unvaccinated students, which at the time was in line with public health guidance for schools before the delta variant caused stricter recommendations.
51%. That’s the share of parents in the Gallup poll who said they’re very or moderately worried about unvaccinated people in their area, versus 60% of adults overall. A further 48% of parents said they’re not worried about the unvaccinated, with 37% saying they’re “not worried at all.”
A new Axios/Ipsos poll, conducted August 27-30 among a smaller sample size of 205 parents, similarly found 68% of parents either have already gotten their child the Covid-19 vaccine or are likely to have them get it once it’s available to them—the highest share recorded so far and up from 56% just two weeks earlier. The rise in parents’ support for vaccines is part of a broader decline in vaccine hesitancy, with Axios/Ipsos finding the share of 1,071 adults who say they’re unlikely to get the shot has dropped to its lowest level yet at 20%. That rise comes amid an increased concern about the coronavirus in light of the delta variant, with 60% saying returning to their pre-pandemic lives “would be a large or moderate risk,” the highest level recorded since March.
Covid-19 in schools and among children has become a greater concern as the delta variant has spread amid the start of a new school year, leaving children not yet eligible for vaccination particularly vulnerable. Thousands of positive Covid-19 cases have been recorded among schoolchildren, spurring widespread quarantines and shutting some schools down entirely, and mask wearing has become particularly contentious as schools and state governments take steps to either mandate them or ban mask requirements entirely. Gallup’s polling on masks is in line with other recent polling showing parents are less supportive of school mask mandates than adults overall, with a recent Associated Press/NORC poll finding 52% of parents supported mask mandates in schools versus approximately 60% of all adults. The Gallup and Ipsos polls on vaccine hesitancy also come after a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in July and early August found a combined 52% of parents either will not get their children vaccinated or plan to “wait and see,” another sign that hesitancy among parents has been dropping.
What To Watch For
How vaccination rates among teenagers will change amid the delta variant spread and new school year, and when children under age 12 will be able to get the shot. Vaccination rates among 12- to 17-year-olds are lower than the general population, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting only 49% of those ages 12-15 and 57.5% of those 16-17 have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 74.1% of adults. Children under 12 are so far not yet eligible for any of the approved Covid-19 vaccines, though they’re projected to become eligible possibly later this year. Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) head Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who serves on Pfizer’s board, told CBS Sunday he projects the vaccine could be approved by “late fall, more likely early winter,” after Pfizer files data with the FDA on child vaccinations in September and files an application for approval potentially in October. “That puts you on a timeline that it could be available, authorized at some point in November, late November, maybe early December,” Gottlieb said.