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Latin-American Parents Express Need for Trusted Sources on COVID-19 Vaccines

Short- and Long-Term Effects Among Cited Concerns

Latin-American parents and caregivers in L.A. County say they need trusted sources of information before vaccinating their children against COVID-19, according to a new study led by a Cedars-Sinai investigator.

The findings are published in the peer-reviewed journal Vaccines.

“The big message for primary care providers is that our words hold so much weight when it comes to helping patients make informed decisions,” said lead author Yelba Castellon-Lopez, MD, a primary care provider and a research scientist in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai. “Taking a moment to ask ‘why’ can help you learn so much.”

In October 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in children ages 5-11, but many eligible children remain unvaccinated.

In L.A. County, less than half of children ages 5-11 are vaccinated against COVID-19. These rates are even lower for Latin-American children in the area: Only 27.7% of these children had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of August 2023.

In March and April 2022, investigators conducted six virtual focus groups with 47 parents and caregivers of children ages 5-11. The parents and caregivers were recruited because of their participation in another study that assessed the effectiveness of MiVacunaLA, a mobile-phone text-based program meant to educate parents and caregivers and improve vaccination rates. Half of the parents and caregivers had been exposed to the intervention and half had not.

Answers from parents and caregivers fit into the following general themes:

  • Needing to think about vaccinating their children more than about vaccinating themselves
  • Needing trusted sources of vaccine information
  • Being concerned about short- and long-term effects of the vaccine in children

Parents also said doctors and scientific studies are trusted sources of COVID-19 vaccine information and that they appreciate text messages containing information about COVID-19 vaccines. The investigators found that digital content, such as videos featuring doctors, can help parents in their decision-making.

The investigators are continuing to study how the MiVacunaLA program improves parents’ likelihood of vaccinating their children.

Funding: The study was funded by the VaxUp Innovation Challenge Grant sponsored by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health and CEAL/STOP COVID-19 CA.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Tips to Navigate a COVID-19 Infection in Your Household