A new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia reveals many parents are willing to accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The international study, recently published in Clinical Therapeutics, surveyed more than 2,500 families from Canada, Israel, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States who visited 17 different emergency departments between the end of March to the end of June.
When asked if they were willing to accept less rigorous testing and faster approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, nearly half (43 per cent) of parents surveyed globally said they were willing.
“While the safety of vaccines given to children is paramount, our study indicates that parents are eager to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and many are supportive of expedited vaccine research development and regulatory approval,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Ran Goldman, professor in the UBC faculty of medicine’s department of pediatrics.
The research team, comprised of scientists from Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan, found that parents were more willing to accept less rigorous testing if they had children who were up-to-date on their vaccinations, and if they plan to immunize their children when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. Parents were also more willing to accept less rigorous testing if they were worried that they had COVID-19 at the time they completed the survey.
Overall, more than half (52 per cent) of fathers were likely to suggest modifying the approval standards, while a greater proportion of mothers were in support of continuing the current vaccine development and regulatory process.
The survey also revealed that families reporting a loss of income during the pandemic were not in favour of modifying regulations for COVID-19 vaccine approval.
“Understanding parents’ attitudes to an expedited COVID-19 vaccine is imperative in helping inform public health strategy and ultimately improve vaccine acceptance,” added Goldman.
Since January, more than 180 different COVID-19 vaccine candidates have been developed. Prior to regulatory approval, novel vaccine candidates need to follow a well-defined scientific process to ensure effectiveness and safety. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some have gained fast-track status. Fast-tracking the licensure process for vaccines has been explored in the past for other infectious diseases including tuberculosis and Zika virus.
This study is part of a broader examination by Goldman exploring parents’ concerns, thoughts, and actions related to the health and wellbeing of their children during COVID-19.