Kids and COVID: Half of Canadian parents with children aged 5-11 ready to vaccinate their little ones ASAP

Kids and COVID: Half of Canadian parents with children aged 5-11 ready to vaccinate their little ones ASAP

Nearly one-quarter say they will not vaccinate their children aged 5-11

October 18, 2021 – Based on strong hints from public health officials and pharmaceutical companies, the next chapter of Canada’s mass COVID-19 vaccine story appears poised to involve inoculating younger children – and one-in-two parents of younger children are ready to jab their kids right away.

This, according to the latest data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute. But while half of parents say they plan to vaccinate their elementary school-aged children as soon as a vaccine is available to them, nearly one-quarter – fully 23 per cent – say they will not.

The responses come amid speculation that kids aged 5-11 will be soon eligible for COVID-19 inoculation. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer recently submitted data suggesting its vaccine is safe for that age group. And as COVID-19 cases increase in schools, some jurisdictions have begun planning for approval, with British Columbia allowing parents to register kids for their first jab in the event such approval is granted.

As with vaccination rates for the adult population, regional divisions are evident. While approximately 15 per cent of those with children aged 5-11 living in British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada would not vaccinate their kids, the number doubles in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, to closer to 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, discussions of a potential third dose of vaccine for adults, too, is generating interest. Thus far, some health authorities have been offering booster shots for health-care workers, long-term care residents, and at-risk individuals. Overall, the idea of a third dose is palatable to most vaccinated Canadians. Three-in-five (62%) say they would take the shot right away if it were offered, while another one-in-five (20%) say they would get an additional dose eventually but would be in no rush.

More Key Findings:

  • Two-in-five (38%) parents whose household income is less than $50,000 say they would be willing to do so right away, compared to 59 per cent among those earning more than $100,000.
  • More than three-in-five (63%) parents with a university education say they would vaccinate their child as soon as possible, compared to 46 per cent of those whose educational attainment is a high school diploma or less.
  • Nearly two-in-five Canadians (37%) now say they do not ever expect Canada to return to a pre-COVID normal. This represents double the number who felt that way last December.


About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.



Part One: Vaccines for 5-11 age groups? Half of parents on board, many are hesitant

Part Two: Booster shots: Three-in-five would take a third dose immediately when available

Part Three: ‘Return to normal’ continues to look less likely


Part One: Vaccines for 5-11 age group? Half of parents on board, many are hesitant

Preliminary data has already been submitted by Pfizer-BioNTech regarding the use of those companies’ COVID-19 vaccine in children between the ages of 5 and 11, a population which has so far been ineligible, with vaccinations taking place among Canadians 12 years of age and older. An official request for approval from Pfizer is expected in both Canada and the United States in the coming days, which would set in motion another series of inoculations in an attempt to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 cases have been rising in younger children with a return to in-class learning in many parts of the country. And while children are still at relatively low risk of serious illness from the virus, concerns about spread to vulnerable populations have health officials voicing support for vaccination among youngsters.

Overall, half of parents with children in this age group say that if a vaccine is approved for use by Health Canada, they would have their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

While Canada’s overall vaccination rate has risen with each passing month, there have been evident regional challenges along the way. Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are home to lower vaccination rates than other provinces, leading to fatality rates in those two provinces triple the national average.

These new data show Albertan parents are least likely to say that they would vaccinate their children if a vaccine were offered to the five to 11 age group, (46% do), and 15 per cent saying they would eventually. This leaves approximately two-in-five (38%) abstaining for now. That number drops to approximately one-quarter in B.C., Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. Notably, Quebec parents are hesitant too, even as their adult vaccination rate is among the highest in the nation.

*Small sample size, interpret with caution

Income and education levels drive this discussion as well. Willingness to vaccinate children rises considerably with increasing household income, while the same is true of those with the highest level of educational attainment:

Part Two: Booster shots: Three-in-five would take a third dose immediately when available

And while parents prepare to make decisions about first does for young children, adults – regardless of their parental status – may soon be considering decisions over a third shot.

Vaccine hesitancy has diminished month by month since the rollout began in the early parts of 2021. Currently just one-in-twelve Canadian adults currently say they haven’t been vaccinated (see detailed tables).

The Angus Reid Institute asked these who have received at least one shot whether they would be willing to receive a booster – on top of the two required to be considered “fully vaccinated” – if it were eventually offered to them. Overall, three-in-five (62%) say that they would be willing to take a third dose as soon as it became available. Another one-in-five (20%) are not opposed to the idea but would wait a while before committing. Just nine per cent of vaccinated Canadians oppose the idea:

Booster shots have been offered in Canada in a limited capacity so far. Health-care workers and long-term care residents and those deemed “clinically extremely vulnerable” have been among the first to be given the opportunity, owing to their increased risk of exposure and adverse health impacts. In the United States, a federal advisory panel voted late last week to support Moderna’s proposal to offer a half dose of that vaccine to seniors as a booster.

Canada may follow similar procedures in rolling out boosters. At this point, older residents are much more enthusiastic than younger ones about the idea of getting a third dose, though even half of 18- to 24-year-olds would take a booster shot as soon as it was offered:

On this question, given that respondents have already been at least partially vaccinated, the same regional divisions do not exist as with broader discussion of vaccinations (see detailed tables). That said, there are still differences based on political ideology. Past Conservative and Bloc Québécois voters who have been vaccinated are much less likely than those who recently supported the Liberals and NDP to say that they would immediately receive a booster:

Part Three: ‘Return to normal’ continues to look less likely

Since the pandemic began, the Angus Reid Institute has been asking Canadians of their expectations when it comes to the duration of this period in history. In the early days, few thought that COVID-19 would affect their lives for longer than six months. More recently, however, the return to normal has seemed further away, or even unattainable.

Currently, the largest group of Canadians (37%) say that Canada will never return to the way that it was before February 2020. Vaccinations, travel restrictions, working arrangements and other changes have evidently entrenched themselves into the Canadian psyche. Others are holding out hope that these new realities will still fade away, but few feel that it is imminent:

Looking back over nearly a year, the number of Canadians saying they do not expect things to ever go back to normal has nearly doubled:

Meanwhile, personal concern over contracting the virus rose in the last month. Three-in-five (57%) Canadians are very or moderately concerned about being infected, a decline from a peak of 71 per cent at the beginning of the year, but a climb from a summer valley of 47 per cent.

Of note, there are stark differences between those who are vaccinated and those who are not, with the latter reporting far less concern about becoming sick:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2021, among a representative randomized sample of 5,011 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

For the full questionnaire, click here.

Image – Mufid Majnun/Unsplash


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821