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38 percent of parents trust COVID-19 information from CDC, health department Vanderbilt poll reveals

(Source: WWSB)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 3:28 PM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Vanderbilt University medical professionals held a Zoom presentation Wednesday afternoon to present its findings in a Tennessee Child Health Poll. The presentation, facilitated by Dr. Stephen Patrick, included an informational segment as well as a question and answer portion with a panel of doctors.

Vanderbilt conducted a Child Health Poll on the impacts of COVID-19 on Tennessee families and children. The poll, conducted from October 2 through November 9, 2020, surveyed roughly 1,066 Tennessee parents.

The poll touched areas including health insurance, food security, mental health, education, masks, vaccines and trust in COVID information.

Under the category of insurance, nine percent of Tennessee parents reported their children were uninsured in 2020, which Vanderbilt notes is twice the rate in 2019. During the course of the pandemic, one in five parents said they experience a loss of insurance. One of the panelists, Dr. Joeseph Zickafoose noted that this was most likely due to parents who lost jobs and in turn lost access to health insurance last year.

Zickafoose said there are many concerns with children not having access to insurance like missing routine immunizations, making them more vulnerable during the pandemic and missing the opportunity to identify chronic illnesses in children.

A big concern and topic on the poll was food insecurity in Tennessee. According to the poll, around 40 percent of parents said they can’t afford nutritious foods and more than half of parents, in turn, receive some sort of government assistance to feed their family, like food stamps.

Some of the main concerns the doctors spoke about in relation to food insecurity were the direct connection to behavioral and mental health issues. Dr. Fuch described how lack of nutritious foods makes it harder for children to focus in school which directly affects children’s’ behavior. Dr. Zickafoose said food insecurity is a domino effect; families don’t have enough to eat, and it’s likely because they don’t have the funds to eat, and if families can’t afford food, then they likely can’t afford housing, healthcare, and all of these things can take a toll on mental health.

The doctors also discussed masks and vaccines in the meeting. Around 53 percent of parents said they would get their children vaccinated when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available for children and 64 percent of parents said they would be getting their children vaccinated for the flu in 2020. Surrounding the conversation of mask-wearing, the poll revealed 57 percent of parents revealed they wear masks every time they go to a public place like grocery stores. Of those parents, the study reveals most Black parents (76%) reported always wearing a mask, compared to 53% of White parents.

Doctors noted that the mask-wearing could be directly correlated to parents’ trust in COVID-19 information. According to the poll results, parents do not have a lot of trust in COVID-19 information from what are typically considered “trustworthy sources.”

Just 38 percent of parents said they trust COVID-19 information from the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC) and only 38 percent of parents trust the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 information. During the panel discussion, Dr. Kecia Carroll said in order for parents to be able to trust health officials, those in the healthcare field must make themselves more trustworthy. She mentioned healthcare as a whole needing more diversity in leadership roles, and the field needs to be more inclusive and culturally aware.

“Make community members feel valued and heard,” said Carroll.

Dr. Carroll also said health officials should work to be more transparent and authentic while reinforcing that science drives the decisions made in the medical field.

You can find the full poll report here.

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