In Fall 2021, the COVID-19 Delta Variant produced yet another surge of cases and deaths. Many parents eagerly awaited the official emergency authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for younger children. However, other parents had already planned to delay or refuse vaccination. To ascertain how news and information consumption may impact vaccination decisions, a survey questionnaire of parents was conducted in the beginning of September through online posts to social media parenting groups. Of the (n= 1004) surveys completed, 966 parents indicated their vaccination decisions or intent to vaccinate through both closed and open ended questions. Most participants were in favor of vaccinating their children and used a variety of local and national news and other types of information to make their decisions. While there was no significant relationship between news consumption and intentions to vaccinate, participants against vaccination indicated lower levels of news engagement and were more likely to dismiss news media content as a credible source. This study has implications for creating effective campaigns based on news consumption, primarily for those uncertain or against vaccinating children.

Key Take Away Points

The variety of sources and consistency of sources was interesting in that most sources tended to be traditional journalistic sources. Most participants (175 of those who reported news sources) said they consumed an average of four news sources.

Overall, parents that completed this survey on news sources and intent to vaccinate overwhelmingly identified as Democrat, educated, White, cis-women who were already vaccinated against COVID-19.

Parents who intended to vaccinate tended to seek out a variety (four on average) news sources at both the local and national level, even if they consult social media posts (not from news organizations) or other sources. Parents who did not intend to vaccinate were less likely to consume news and some were more likely to avoid news sources.

Author Biography

Mildred F. “Mimi” Perreault (Ph.D., University of Missouri (USA)) is an Assistant Professor in the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication at the University of South Florida. Perreault has researched public relations practitioners, local journalists, and citizen scientists as both stakeholders and disaster communicators. She was previously an Assistant Professor of Media and Communication at East Tennessee State University, lecturer and research assistant professor at Appalachian State University. After working as a journalist and public relations professional in Washington, DC, and South Florida she sees the role of the local journalist during a natural disaster as one that can engage community response and build community resilience. Perreault has published numerous books chapters and academic articles in Disasters, American Behavioral Scientist, Health Communication, Journalism Practice, Games and Culture, Communication Studies, and Journalism Education. Perreault has a M.A. in Communication Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Baylor University.