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CNY Health Communication Expert Hopeful For Vaccination Participation Among Young Children

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SELF Magazine
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Wikimedia Commons

One of the main factors determining whether parents will get their young children vaccinated for the COVID virus is information – how much parents get it, and how much they trust it. One Syracuse University communications professor has some ideas about how things could go more smoothly with 5 to 11 year olds, who were just approved to get shots by the CDC.

Rebecca Ortiz of the Newhouse School also has a PhD in health communications. She understands a degree of hesitancy.

"Parents will inherently want to protect their children even more than they want to protect themselves," she said. "Those are the potential for misinformation that happens to that emotional response. I think it's even more powerful that we have to be careful."

Ortiz is optimistic that one thing that might bridge that gap of trustworthy information is the health routines most parents have with their children.

"Adults don't necessarily go to the doctor every year, whereas children are more likely to have these annual visits because of regular check-ins and other types of vaccines that they they need," she said. "So I think we might, because of that, be higher rate among children being vaccinated because there is that opportunity to have communication with healthcare providers."

At the same time, she knows parents’ feelings around keeping kids safe can allow misinformation to be more effective.

"The emotional feeling that we see being spread around misinformation, trying to connect with fear and confusion and distrust will be arguably even more amplified because parents will want to protect their children even more than they want to protect themselves," she said. Those are the potential for misinformation that happens to that emotional response. I think it's even more powerful "

Ortiz also notes, not all pediatricians have the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus vaccines. She suggests reaching out to these doctors could be a strategy to help limit the spread of misinformation and help parents with their vaccine choices for young children.