Some parents of Public School System students are hesitant to allow their children to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns over the vaccines’ newness, its contents, and the possible side effects.
This was just one of the findings in a recent survey that PSS put out, called “COVID-19 Vaccination Parent Survey,” where they tried to identify the factors behind the vaccine hesitancy of some parents and how to address these issues as PSS prepares to start a new school year with more in-person classes.
To alleviate some of these concerns, Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada said that “communication is key.”
The survey’s findings, as well as PSS leadership’s thoughts on the matter of parents’ concerns with COVID-19 vaccines, were some of the many topics during PSS’ guest appearance on radio last week.
According to Dr. Bonnie Pangelinan—whom Ada described as PSS’ liaison to the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force—a total of 799 parents completed the survey, with respondents ranging from parents of students participating in the Early Head Start Program, all the way to parents of incoming high school seniors.
For Pangelinan, she sees the need for PSS to fine-tune its approach to get concerned parents on board with vaccinations. “Building upon the input that they gave us, we need to share the benefits of the vaccine and the research that has been done,” said Pangelinan.
When asked what needs to be done moving forward, Ada said that “communication is key to try to get out to the community and share the scientific evidence of our situation.” In line with this goal, Ada said that one approach that PSS is trying out is communicating in the native languages of the top five ethnicities that make up PSS’ student population. Currently, Chamorros, Filipinos, Carolinians, Chuukese, and Chinese students make up a majority of PSS’ overall student body.
Shortly after Ada’s remarks, a mix of PSS leaders and students from these five ethnic groups spoke in their native languages to urge their peers that have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to consider having it.
Pangelinan assured that parents who are concerned with the vaccines are being seen and heard. “We hear you. …This is an invitation to get vaccinated, never a demand, and we will be there to help allay your concerns and answer [any] questions,” said Pangelinan.
PSS earlier said that COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the upcoming school year are not required, but are highly encouraged.