1 in 4 Parents Lied about Their Kids’ COVID-19 Status, Study Finds

More than 25 percent of parents surveyed report that they were less than truthful about their children’s COVID-19 status or that they didn’t follow the disease’s preventive guidelines for their offspring during the pandemic, according to a nationwide study led in part by scientists at U of U Health.

The finding published in JAMA Network Open last spring raises concerns that parental reluctance to disclose that their children had the disease or didn’t adhere to COVID-19 prevention protocols could have contributed to the spread of the infection and exacerbated its high rates of hospitalization and death, says Angela Fagerlin, senior author of the study and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at U of U Health.

Overall, about 26% of parents misrepresented a child’s COVID-19 status in some way. Of those:

• About 60% reported that they deceived others about their child’s vaccination status when they wanted their unvaccinated children to participate in an activity that required vaccination.

• Among parents who reported misleading others about their child having COVID-19 or not following public health recommendations, more than 50% reported doing so because they wanted the freedom to do what they thought best for their family.

• Nearly 43% of parents said they didn’t tell others that their children had COVID-19 because they didn’t want them to miss school.

• About 35% of parents didn’t disclose that their child had COVID-19 because, in part, they could not afford to miss work to care for them.


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