Pharma Focus Asia

Effects of COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Framing on Parental Reactions

Hao Tan, Jiayan Liu, Yingli Zhang.


As a major concern shared by parents globally, COVID-19 vaccine safety is typically being messaged to the public in a negative frame in many countries. However, whether the COVID-19 vaccine safety framing have an effect on parents when vaccinating their children is unclear. Here we implement an online survey with a convenience sample of 3,861 parents living in mainland China, all over 18 years old and with at least one child under 18.


Despite the benefits and worldwide approval use of COVID-19 vaccination for children parents still remain a high level of vaccine hesitancy due to concerns about vaccine safety. Growing evidence showing that behavioral nudges, which are usually shifts in how a message is framed, are desperately needed to boost COVID-19 vaccination. However, public-health specialists and healthcare workers face a particular dilemma in communicating vaccine safety information to parents because they are not provided with guidelines for presenting or framing the information.


This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Hunan University (2019002). Written consent was obtained from respondents when they registered and completed the questionnaire on the online survey platform, and they were assured that all results would be disseminated in aggregate form to guarantee anonymity and confidentiality.


Similar to some previous studies showing that subtle changes in framing had an impact on people’s reactions our study revealed a significant framing effect for parents’ involvements. Specifically, parents exposed to positively framed COVID-19 vaccine safety messages were more likely to regard vaccine safety as relevant to policy support and as a higher priority for government than parents exposed to the same messages in the negative frame.

Citation: Tan H, Liu J, Zhang Y (2024) Effects of COVID-19 vaccine safety framing on parental reactions. PLoS ONE 19(4): e0302233.

Editor: Omar Enzo Santangelo, Regional Health Care and Social Agency of Lodi, ITALY

Received: August 1, 2023; Accepted: March 29, 2024; Published: April 16, 2024.

Copyright: © 2024 Tan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: All relevant data are within the manuscript and its Supporting Information files.

Funding: This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of Hunan Province (2023JJ30149) and Research Foundation of Lushan Lab, which were got by Hao Tan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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