Highlights from the 2017 childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (cNICS)

The childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (cNICS)

cNICS is a survey conducted every two years by Statistics Canada on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada since 2011. The survey is given to parents and measures the percentage of children who have received all routine vaccinations by ages two, seven, fourteen, or seventeen years.

Results from this survey help understand how well Canadian children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases, as well as what parents know and think about vaccines.

Survey results are used to:

Key Results

The 2017 survey showed that:

  • 90% of two-year old children had received at least one dose of measles vaccine;
  • 76% of two-year old children had received all recommended doses (four) of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine; and,
  • 2.3% of two-year-old children had not received any vaccine.

The results show that in 2017, like in previous years, a majority of children had received the recommended vaccines by two years of age. Despite this, more work needs to be done to ensure Canada meets its coverage goal of 95% for all recommended childhood vaccines (Figure 1).

The coverage rate that prevents outbreaks is called community immunity. When vaccine coverage rates are below the community immunity levels in a certain area, that community becomes vulnerable to potential outbreaks.

Figure 1. Percentage of children vaccinated before their second birthday, childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Text Description

This figure is a column graph showing the percentages of children having received various vaccines in 2013, 2015 and 2017. All the percentages were below the vaccine coverage goal of 95%.

Data for cNICS is collected primarily from vaccination cards or booklets held by parents, in which some vaccine doses received by children may be missing or recorded with incomplete or illegible information. Therefore, the actual vaccine coverage is likely somewhat higher than what cNICS reports.

Attitudes and beliefs about vaccines among parents

To better understand the factors influencing decisions on vaccination, parents were asked about their views on vaccines (Table 1).

  • Most parents with two-year-old children agree that childhood vaccines are safe (94%) and effective (96%).
  • The majority of parents understand the concept of “community immunity”, with 95% agreeing that vaccinating their child can help to protect the health of others.
  • They also trust that other parents vaccinate their own children (94%).
  • On the other hand, 52% are concerned about potential side effects of vaccines.
  • 13% of parents believe that alternative practices such as homeopathy and chiropractic can replace vaccines. Numerous studies have shown this is not true, and that using alternative practices instead of vaccines leaves children at risk of serious diseases.
Table 1. Perceptions about vaccines among parents of two-year-old children, childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey, 2017.
Statement Percentage of parents who agree
In general, vaccines help to protect my child's health 97%
In general, childhood vaccines are effective 96%
Having my child vaccinated helps to protect the health of others in my community 95%
In general, childhood vaccines are safe 94%
Most parents in my community have their children vaccinated with all recommended vaccines 94%
Unvaccinated children are at higher risk of getting some serious diseases. 87%
In general, I am concerned about the potential side effects from vaccines 52%
In general, a vaccine can give you a serious case of the very same disease it was meant to prevent 25%
Alternative practices, such as homeopathy or chiropractic care, can eliminate the need for vaccination 13%

What you need to know:

  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent serious diseases that can cause severe complications, or even death.
  • Community immunity also protects those infants who are too young to be vaccinated.
  • Vaccines are safe and effective. They go through many tests, and often take more than 10 years of research before they are approved and can be used in Canada.

For more information about vaccines.

A detailed report describing results from cNICS 2017 is available.

For more information, please contact us at: phac.coverage-couvertures.aspc@canada.ca.

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