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Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey, 2017

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Released: 2019-03-26

According to the World Health Organization, every year more than two million deaths are prevented worldwide due to immunization. In Canada, routine childhood vaccines are provided free to families as part of provincial and territorial publicly-funded programs.

National vaccine coverage estimates for 2-year-olds are unchanged since 2015

The results from the Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (CNICS) for 2017 show that vaccine coverage rates for 2-year-old children have not changed significantly since 2015.

According to public health recommendations, by the age of 24 months, children should have received one dose of the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella and four doses of the vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus.

Results from the CNICS 2017 show that 90% of 2-year-old children who resided in Canada had been vaccinated against measles, while 76% had received the recommended four vaccine doses to protect them from diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus before their second birthday.

Almost 9 in 10 2-year-olds (88%) had received the meningococcal C vaccine, while 81% of children aged 2 had received the pneumococcal vaccine that protects against pneumonia.

Among 2-year-olds, coverage for polio was estimated to be 91% in 2017.

Just over 8 in 10 children (83%) had been vaccinated for varicella (chicken pox) by the time they turned 2.

Most parents and guardians of 2-year-olds believe that vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect their child's health

In addition to collecting data on vaccinations received by Canadian children, the CNICS also asked parents about their beliefs and knowledge of vaccination. Research has shown that parents' beliefs and knowledge influence their decision to vaccinate their child. In 2017, the vast majority of parents or guardians of 2-year-old's agreed that vaccines are safe (94%), effective (96%) and help protect their child's health (97%). These results were very similar to those found in 2015.

In 2017, 95% of parents or guardians of 2-year-old children agreed that vaccinating their children helped to protect the health of others in their community, who may not be able to get vaccinated because of health-related reasons. Furthermore, 7 in 10 of these parents or guardians (69%) felt that delaying a vaccine could put their child's health at risk.

  Note to readers

The data come from the 2017 cycle of the Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (CNICS), which is sponsored by the Public Health Agency of Canada and has been conducted by Statistics Canada every two years since 2011.

The purpose of the survey is to determine whether children under the age of 18 are immunized in accordance with recommended vaccination schedules for publicly funded vaccines.

The target population for the CNICS 2017 survey is children aged 2, 7, 14 and 17 years old as of March 1, 2017, living in the provinces and territories and excluding those living on First Nation reserves or living in an institution.

Data collection and methodology

Immunization data for CNICS are collected from two sources: the parent or guardian of the selected child and the child's health care provider(s).

Initially the child's parent or guardian is contacted by phone and asked to provide vaccine information recorded in the child's provincial or territorial immunization booklet. These records may contain incomplete or illegible information about the vaccine doses the child has received. For CNICS 2017, parents or guardians provided details of vaccinations for approximately 92% of the children assessed for coverage.

Second, if and when the parent provides written consent, the health care provider(s) is also contacted and asked to provide details of the vaccines given to the child. Similarly, these records may contain errors or omissions when the child has moved or obtained vaccines from multiple health care providers (for example: doctors, public health nurses, school vaccination programs, etc.). Immunization records from health care providers were obtained for approximately 49% of the children assessed for immunization coverage in 2017.

The two sources (parent and health care provider data) were combined to produce the immunization information for the child. This was then used to determine whether the child was considered covered, according to the national recommendations for childhood vaccination provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Owing to differences in survey methodology, estimates of vaccine coverage produced from CNICS survey results may not align with coverage estimates produced using different sources of immunization information, such as provincial and territorial vaccine registry data.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

For more information about the survey, contact the Public Health Agency of Canada (613-957-2983).

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