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Vaccinated parents provide indirect COVID protection to their unvaccinated children

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to new research published by Harvard University and Israeli scientists, parental vaccination status may impact their child’s likelihood of contracting the coronavirus.

The study assessed whether vaccination with the Pfizer series plus a booster among one or two parents living inside of a single household protected their younger kids from infection, particularly those children who are not yet eligible for immunization. They found children were less susceptible to infection if either or both parents had gotten the shot, even if either parent had a breakthrough case. 

News 8 spoke with Dr. Brian Dixon, director of public health informatics at the Regenstrief Institute, who weighed in on the findings.

“This is really exciting news because we would hypothesize that this would be the case,” he said. “Because we talk a lot about this concept of herd immunity. So, if I surround myself with three people who are vaccinated even if I’m unvaccinated I’m less likely to become infected, and this study really tested that theory in a large sample of the population.”

Scientists assessed over 181,000 unvaccinated children from 76,000 households from July through September, a time in which the delta variant was the dominating variant. Results showed households with one parent who had the two-dose series plus the booster was linked to a 21% decreased risk of infecting their kids. Two boosted parents showed a 58% decreased risk. 

Dixon says while this study may be specific to households, it gives the scientific community an insight into what might be going on in the world.