Skip to main content



Singapore fathers more hesitant than mothers about Covid-19 vaccination for children: Study

SINGAPORE — When it comes to getting their children vaccinated against Covid-19, fathers are more likely than mothers to be hesitant about it, a new study showed.

Children aged five to eleven in Singapore under observation after receiving their Covid-19 vaccination in December 2021.

Children aged five to eleven in Singapore under observation after receiving their Covid-19 vaccination in December 2021.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.
  • A survey of 628 parents in Singapore showed that 33.1 per cent of them were hesitant about getting their children vaccinated against Covid-19
  • Fathers more than mothers were hesitant
  • The biggest factor influencing parents’ decisions was trust in their child’s doctor
  • Social media usage was not correlated with vaccine hesitancy, the study also found
  • The study was done by a group of paediatricians with the Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute

SINGAPORE — When it comes to getting their children vaccinated against Covid-19, fathers are more likely than mothers to be hesitant about it, a new study showed.

Additionally, vaccine-hesitant parents were more likely to know someone who suffered side effects or did not fully trust their child’s doctor.

These were part of the findings from a study by a group of paediatricians with the Khoo Teck Puat – National University Children’s Medical Institute (KTP-NUCMI) at the National University Hospital (NUH).

It was done by surveying 628 parents from November 2021 to March 2022 to find out the impact of social media and other factors on vaccine hesitancy towards their children.

The survey found that about three in 10 parents (33.1 per cent) were vaccine hesitant — with 27.2 per cent considering themselves being somewhat hesitant.

And among fathers, 39.1 per cent were vaccine hesitant, compared to 30.4 per cent of mothers. 

Dr Zhong Youjia, a visiting consultant at KTP-NUCMI, said at a press conference on Wednesday (Oct 26): “There have been other studies in the region, even in Vietnam, which shows that fathers may be more hesitant as well.”

She added: “One of the potential possibilities is that mothers are usually the ones (taking their children) for vaccinations, so they are more used to the idea of getting their child vaccinated, whereas fathers don’t normally do it, so they don’t have that opportunity to meet with healthcare professionals.”

The Singapore study also found that the most significant factor influencing parents’ decision to inoculate their children was trust in the paediatrician.

Overall, a majority of the parents — about nine in 10 — said that they could make shared parental decisions with their children's doctor and discuss their concerns openly. More than half (59.6 per cent) trusted their child's doctor fully.

Vaccine-hesitant parents, though, were less likely to trust their child's doctor compared to parents who were not vaccine hesitant:

  • For parents who were not vaccine hesitant, 68.3 per cent stated that they fully trusted their child’s doctor
  • For parents who were vaccine hesitant, just 41.8 per cent said that they fully trusted their child’s doctor

The findings also showed that vaccine hesitancy was significantly associated with parents who had a lower education level, lower household income as well as being unvaccinated for Covid-19.

However, contrary to other studies done recently in other countries, the study found that social media was not a significant factor in vaccine hesitancy for the Singapore respondents.

The researchers acknowledged that in their survey, there was an over-representation of healthcare workers and people who saw medical professionals because they sampled parents from the hospital.

The survey was publicised on NUH’s social media channels, sent via email, and posters with QR codes linking to the survey were placed around the hospital. The survey was anonymous, voluntary and participants were not paid.

Dr Lee Le Ye, a senior consultant at KTP-NUCMI who was the lead author of the study, said: “There is an opportunity to do a bigger study with other Asian societies with diverse socio-economic backgrounds. This will allow for further exploration of the problem of vaccine hesitancy, which has been identified by the World Health Organization to be a key threat to human health.”

Previous studies on parental vaccine hesitancy in other Asian countries such as Bangladesh showed that parental vaccine hesitancy was as high as 42.8 per cent.


In the Singapore survey, parents indicated that the more common sources of information and updates they got about Covid-19 were from printed media such as newspapers (62.7 per cent) and then Facebook (56.8 per cent) and Instagram (24.8 per cent).

Twitter and Weibo were less likely to be used among respondents to obtain updates. YouTube and Instagram were also used infrequently.

There was no difference between vaccine-hesitant and non-hesitant parents in their use of social media to obtain information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, parents who were not vaccine hesitant were more likely to use other sources such as newspapers frequently to obtain information related to Covid-19, compared to vaccine-hesitant parents.

The researchers suggested that the addition of print media together with social media could have decreased vaccine hesitancy, and it could be that the sole reliance of social media for news had led to vaccine hesitancy.

Dr Zhong Youjia commented: “I think perhaps in Singapore, we could say that accurate health information is being disseminated by print media — this finding has not been seen in other countries.”

The researchers said that a multi-pronged approach was necessary to target vaccine hesitancy among parents, and that only 78 per cent of children under 12 years old had taken at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

This is compared to 92 per cent of the general population — including children — who have completed the full vaccine regimen, statistics by the Ministry of Health showed.

The researchers added that although the risk of severe complications in younger children who have Covid-19 is low, they still have a higher risk compared to older children who have been vaccinated.

Severe disease can still occur in young children, leading to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), for instance, or death.

Vaccination is thus important to reduce risk of severe disease and death in young children.

One suggestion that the researchers gave was for healthcare providers such as general practitioners to discuss vaccine safety with parents during routine healthcare consultations when the topic of vaccination may be raised.

The researchers also suggested having vaccine information campaigns through various media platforms, and to supply vaccine safety information through the mainstream news media to encourage Covid-19 vaccine uptake.

Ms Illene Chen is a 30-year-old nurse at NUH and has two children, a two-year-old girl and a two-month-old boy.

She said that she is vaccine hesitant because she is afraid of the potential side effects, and because the vaccines are new.

“I’m interested in finding out more before I jab my girl (who has previously been sick with Covid-19). My boy is only two months old, he has many (mandatory) vaccinations to go through. I want to finish his childhood vaccinations first before considering the Covid vaccination.

“The side effects (of the Covid-19 vaccine) scare me, but Covid also scares me.”

Related topics

vaccine hesitancy Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine parents

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.