Mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for children: Attitudes of Western Australian parents

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Australian governments have used vaccine mandates to drive high uptake of routine childhood vaccines and adult Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and influenza vaccines. We sought to understand the attitudes of Western Australian parents regarding mandating COVID-19 vaccines for children, interviewing 44 parents of children aged up to 18 years between May and December 2021. Transcripts were analysed to ascertain parents' attitudes and sources of reasoning. Over half of the parents supported COVID-19 vaccine mandates for children, while the rest had opposing, nuanced or indifferent views. Participants invoked community and health-related reasoning; policy and government-related reasoning; and concerns based on practical implementation. There was a high degree of consistency in parents' attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines and whether they supported mandating them for children, although some who planned to delay vaccination nevertheless supported the idea of mandates. Some participants reported that a mandate would prompt them to vaccinate, but others were willing to accept the consequences of keeping their children unvaccinated, or said that a mandate would not affect them as they would vaccinate regardless. Understanding how parents think and feel about mandating COVID-19 vaccines with educational exclusions or financial penalties is critical to inform policymakers, who may consider these strategies for future pandemic vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2023


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