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SDSU Survey Finds Plenty of Nurses Not Vaccinating Their Kids for Coronavirus

Filip Viskupič & David L. Wiltse of the South Dakota State University School of American and Global Studies produce the SDSU Poll on South Dakota political issues. While the SDSU Poll was way off on its polling of the Noem/Smith election, Viskupič and Wiltse got accurate responses on Thune’s blowout of Bengs and the ballot measures.

While Team Noem is happy to criticize her alma mater’s polling proficiency, Viskupič and Wiltse apparently have sufficiently solid methodology to make the academic press. The Journal of Community Health just published their paper on “Covid-19 Parental Vaccine Hesitancy Among Nurses in the State of South Dakota.” The SDSU researchers emailed 20,980 nurses from the South Dakota Board of Nursing membership file (so their sample did not include not Kristi Noem) to invite them to take an online survey. 1,084 of those nurses responded and completed the survey between June 24 and July 9. Viskupič and Wiltse say they lucked into a self-selecting sample that “closely resembles the state’s population of nurses.” Among those respondents were 298 with children at home age 5 to 17 and 123 with kids age 4 and under.

What significant results did the survey find?

  1. The probability of nurses getting their kids age 5 to 17 vaccinated for covid was 54% among Republican nurses, 61% among independents, and 67% among Democrats.
  2. The probability of nurses getting their kids younger than 5 vaccinated for covid was 27% among Republicans, 31% among independents, and 41% among Democrats. (The FDA had just approved vaccines for younger kids when the survey went out, so the survey asked about intent to vaccinated younger kids, not actual vaccination status.)
  3. With age comes caution: among nurses in their 20s, the vaccination rate for kids 5 to 17 was 38%. That rate increased with age: 48% among nurses in their 30s, 57% in the 40s, and 65% in the 50s.
  4. The strongest predictor of child vaccination was parent vaccination. Among unvaccinated nurses (?!?), only 3% reported vaccinating their older kids. That precentage rose to 15% for nurses who’ve taken one dose, 48% for nurses who are fully vaccinated, and 82% for fully vaccinated and boosted nurses.
Filip Viskupič and David L. Wiltse, "Covid-19 Parental Vaccine Heistancy Among Nurses in the State of South Dakota," Journal of Community Health, 2022.11.12.
Filip Viskupič and David L. Wiltse, “Covid-19 Parental Vaccine Heistancy Among Nurses in the State of South Dakota,” Journal of Community Health, 2022.11.12.

Two things stand out in these results. First, political affiliation has the effect we would predict on parental vaccine hesitancy, but it’s not a huge effect. Majorities of parent-nurses from all three main political groups vaccinated their older kids, but only minorities from all groups planned to get shots for their younger kids.

Second, even among nurses, there is no overwhelming consensus that kids ought to get covid shots. Even among the groups we might predict would be most supportive of vaccines for everyone—Democrats, who pay attention to science and and facts rather than demagogues, and older nurses, who may recognize their own older immune systems may need more protection and who would thus be more inclined to reduce their risk of catching and spreading coronavirus by vaccinating the little vectors in their homes—this survey still finds a good third of nurses choosing not to vaccinate their kids.


  1. sx123 2022-11-15 08:14

    Nurses are people too and they asses risk. Right now, covid risk for kids is perceived, by many, as very low. Therefore, little vaccination. If kids were dying left and right from covid, there would be higher vaccination rates for kids.

    Risk assessment can be wrong of course and rarely looks very far in the future.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-11-15 08:40

    Self-selected respondents/samples always make me wary of true generalizability. In addition – “on the registry” does not = actively practicing. I haven’t read the paper, and perhaps they address these issues. They should be. So should any critical reader.

  3. sx123 2022-11-15 09:11

    It does appear that covid cases, in some SD counties, might be creeping up a bit now. Looking at SD dept of health website.

  4. Ben Cerwinske 2022-11-15 10:48

    I agree with Richard. It seems these kinds of polls/surveys are showing themselves to be almost useless for the general public at least. Maybe they can still be useful for professionals involved in these issues who hopefully understand these polls/surveys likely don’t reflect the general population. The media should no longer find them newsworthy.

  5. John 2022-11-15 11:26

    Unless there are compromised immune systems involved – state boards should revoke credentials of nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals who refuse vaccinations. The unvaccinated are a clear and present danger to public health.

  6. cibvet 2022-11-15 12:46

    John–At the very least ,require gloves, masks and glasses from the time they enter the healthcare property until they leave.

  7. Mark Anderson 2022-11-15 17:36

    Republican nurses want their inheritance and what better way to get it? Just like both Governor’s Noem and DeSantis did next to nothing on Covid and claim victory. Republican’s are very predictable. Let people die, and claim it’s not my job to keep them alive.

  8. Janet Olson 2022-11-16 09:26

    John-Bioethicist Art Caplan from NYU stated that anyone who chooses healthcare as a career has an obligation to be vaccinated against the annual flu virus circulating. This mandatory immunization was enforced first by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the 90’s long before the coronavirus became a repeat of the 1918 influenza epidemic. That was a real challenge as an Employee Health RN after it was adopted by the first hospital Board of Trustees in another state I worked. Hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding had to report employee vaccination rates in order to continue funding by CMS.

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