Many families in the survey say they respect the decisions of families who made a different choice about the vaccine for themselves or their kids, and they wish the decision was not politicized.By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The CDC approved the COVID vaccine for kids over age 12 almost two months ago, but still, a lot fewer kids are being vaccinated than adults.

KDKA recently surveyed parents across the region to find out what played into their decision to get their kids vaccinated or not and to see what may happen when even younger kids can get the vaccine.

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It’s been a tough year for most kids: doing school at home, distancing from friends, activities canceled. Getting the COVID vaccine could change all of that, but many families worry it’s not safe.

In a KDKA News survey of almost 400 people across the region, we found 44% of parents say they’re definitely getting their kids ages 12 to 17 vaccinated. Ten percent decided not to vaccinate their kids, even though they were vaccinated themselves. And 42% of parents said neither they nor their kids are getting the vaccine.

Amy Miller and her 12 and 16-year-old sons from Apollo, Armstrong County all got the COVID Vaccine.

“My older son was born fairly premature, and so we have always trusted the science and our doctors to do what’s best for us and our children, and the fact that they recommended the vaccination, that was enough for us,” Miller said.

Miller’s parents also live with them in Armstrong County. Her reasons to vaccinate her kids mirror the top three reasons people in our survey chose to vaccinate their kids: to prevent their child from getting the virus, to avoid spreading coronavirus to adults and because they trust health officials’ recommendations.

Miller’s kids say they were OK getting the shot because they wanted to get back to a more normal life. Sixteen-year-old Tyler said, “I’ve been able to hang out with friends a lot more and not wearing a mask and stuff – it’s just been a relief.”

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We also found there are many reasons parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids.

Sixty-two percent say they don’t trust the government telling them what to do with their family’s health, 57% worry about side effects and 56% cite that kids usually have only mild symptoms to illnesses. Almost half say the vaccine was developed too quickly, about a third say they’re not worried about COVID, and 8% say it’s for religious reasons.

Eugene Cawley and his wife and four kids from Allison Park are not getting the COVID vaccine. He fears the potential side effects from the vaccine are greater than his kids’ chance of becoming seriously ill from COVID.

“With the vaccine, with the latest news with the inflammation in the heart and stuff like that, I feel that it’s probably more dangerous than catching the corona right now,” Cawley said.

As for even younger kids, the vaccine is expected to be approved in the fall for those under 12, but our survey found only a third will immediately get it for those kids.

Another 14% said they would but will wait, and more than half will not get their younger kids vaccinated.

Many families in the survey say they respect the decisions of families who made a different choice about the vaccine for themselves or their kids, and they wish the decision was not politicized.

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Many vaccines are required for kids in public schools, but almost 60 percent of the families in our survey felt that schools should not mandate the COVID vaccine.

Kristine Sorensen