Data on Washington teen vaccination hesitancy by income


Aaron Kunkler


A recent COVID-19 situation report from the Washington State Department of Health provides some interesting information on families of teens aged 12 to 17 who say they’re not planning to get their kids vaccinated.

The data comes courtesy of a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau from July to October, and provides the income of, and reasons why, families in the state are deciding not to get teens vaccinated. Statewide, just over half of all children ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated, and 57.5% of 16- and 17-year-olds have similarly completed their vaccinations, according to the state’s vaccination dashboard.


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To start with, 22.8% of respondents, who are Washington adults with children ages 12 to 17 who have not received a vaccine, said they will definitely not get a vaccine for their teens. It marks a significant group of families. Check out the graphic below for a bi-weekly breakdown of survey results. The data seems to indicate that by the last week of September and into early October, the majority of families who were planning on getting their teens vaccinated had already done so. Another observation which may be helpful for public health is that affluent and wealthy families seem to be more opposed to getting their teens vaccinated than those with low and moderate income.

Among other groups, 5.3% of respondents whose 12- to 12-year-olds hadn’t received a vaccine already said they will probably not get a vaccine, while 26.3% and 5.8% said they will definitely and probably get their kids vaccinated, respectively.

For households who said they were probably not going to get their teen vaccinated, the highest rate was among those earning between $100,000 to $150,000 a year, and the second highest rate was among households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.

Households with incomes between $150,000 and $200,000 had the highest rate of families that said their teens were definitely not getting a vaccine. The second highest rate was among households earning $50,000 to $75,000 annually.

The survey also collected data on reasons why parents weren’t planning on vaccinating their children ages 12 to 17. Of those, 17% said they were concerned about side effects, and the highest rate was among respondents from households earning $200,000 or more each year, while the second highest rate was among households earning less than $25,000 annually.

For those in households who said they were waiting to see if the vaccines were safe, those earning between $25,000 and $35,000 were the most common. For those unsure if vaccines will work for children, the highest rate was among respondents earning $100,000 to $150,000 a year.

Perhaps interestingly, households earning more than $200,000 a year were the most likely to say they wouldn’t get their teens vaccinated because they either didn’t trust the government or were concerned about the cost of vaccines, which are provided at no cost by the government.