Background: Huge efforts are being made to control the spread and impacts of the coronavirus pandemic using vaccines. However, willingness to be vaccinated depends on factors beyond the availability of vaccines. The aim of
this study was three‑folded: to assess children’s rates of COVID‑19 Vaccination as reported by parents, to explore parents’ attitudes towards children’s COVID‑19 vaccination, and to examine the factors associated with parents’ hesitancy towards children’s vaccination in several countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR).
Methods: This study utilized a cross‑sectional descriptive design. A sample of 3744 parents from eight countries, namely, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (KSA), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was conveniently approached and surveyed using Google forms from November to December 2021. The participants have responded to a 42‑item questionnaire pertaining to socio‑demographics, children vaccination status, knowledge about COVID‑19 vaccines, and attitudes towards vaccinating children and the vaccine itself. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS‑ IBM, Chicago, IL, USA) was used to analyze the data. A cross‑tabulation analysis using the chi‑square test was employed to assess significant differences between categorical variables and a backward
Wald stepwise binary logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the independent effect of each factor after controlling for potential confounders.
Results: The prevalence of vaccinated children against COVID‑19 was 32% as reported by the parents. Concerning parents’ attitudes towards vaccines safety, about one third of participants (32.5%) believe that all vaccines are not safe. In the regression analysis, children’s vaccination was significantly correlated with parents’ age, education, occupation, parents’ previous COVID‑19 infection, and their vaccination status. Participants aged ≥50 years and those aged 40‑50 years had an odds ratio of 17.9 (OR = 17.9, CI: 11.16‑28.97) and 13.2 (OR = 13.2, CI: 8.42‑20.88); respectively, for
vaccinating their children compared to those aged 18‑29 years. Parents who had COVID‑19 vaccine were about five folds more likely to vaccinate their children compared with parents who did not receive the vaccine (OR = 4.9, CI: 3.12‑7.70). The prevalence of children’s vaccination in the participating Arab countries is still not promising.
Conclusion: To encourage parents, vaccinate their children against COVID‑19, Arab governments should strategize accordingly. Reassurance of the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccine should target the general population using educational campaigns, social media, and official TV and radio channels.