COVID-19 Vaccines for Children with Developmental Disabilities: Survey of New York State Parents' Willingness and Concerns

Karen Bonuck, Suzannah Iadarola, Qi Gao, Joanne F. Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT:Objective:While 1 in 6 US children have a developmental disability (DD), and such children are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, little is known about their vaccination status. We surveyed New York State parents of children with DDs to ascertain willingness and concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines.Methods:An online survey was distributed to statewide DD networks from June to September 2021 (vaccines were authorized for adolescents in May 2021). We report associations between vaccine willingness and concerns and race/ethnicity, child age, in-person schooling, routine/flu vaccinations, and DD diagnoses. Willingness was categorized as "got/will get ASAP" (high), "wait and see/only if required," or "definitely not."Results:A total of 352 parents (49.1% White) responded. Willingness differed by age (p < 0.001). High willingness was reported for 73.9%, 50.0%, and 36.0% of children aged 12 to 17, 6 to 11, and 0 to 5 years, respectively. Willingness differed by autism diagnosis (p < 0.01) and routine and flu vaccination status (p < 0.001). Predominant concerns included side effects (89%) and children with disabilities not being in trials (80%). Less common concerns were COVID not serious enough in children to warrant vaccine (23%) and misinformation (e.g., microchips, 5G, DNA changes) (24%). Concerns about vaccine safety differed by age (p < 0.01) and were highest for older and then the youngest children. In age-stratified adjusted models, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder was negatively associated with high willingness for age 5 or younger (OR = 0.02, 95% confidence interval, <0.001-0.622).Conclusion:Parents of children with DD in New York seemed highly willing for them to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Although few factors predicted willingness to vaccinate, addressing safety and developmental concerns regarding young children is warranted. Given their increased vulnerability, improved COVID-19 surveillance for children with DD is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • children
  • survey
  • vaccines
  • willingness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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