A random telephone survey conducted last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 1.3 percent of young children in the United States and U.S. territories in 2015 may be completely unvaccinated. The sample size of the annual 2017 National Immunization Survey-Child (NIS-Child) was 15,333 children between the ages of 19 and 35 months of age.1 2 3
CDC researchers stated, “Coverage remained high and stable overall, exceeding 90% for ≥3 doses of poliovirus vaccine, ≥1 dose of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), ≥3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine (HepB), and ≥1 dose of varicella vaccine. Although the proportion of children who received no vaccine doses by age 24 months was low, this proportion increased gradually from 0.9% for children born in 2011 to 1.3% for children born in 2015.” They noted that, “Unvaccinated children in the 2017 NIS-Child were disproportionately uninsured: 17.2% of unvaccinated children were uninsured, compared with 2.8% of all children.”
Another similar survey done earlier involving American kids born in 2011 estimated that 0.9 percent of them were entirely unvaccinated. There is an upward trend, particularly if the results of a 2001 survey are included in which only 0.3 percent of infants and young children were estimated to be unvaccinated.1 2 3
According to the 2017 NIS-Child, 70 percent of young children under age six in the U.S. have received all doses of the 14 vaccines recommended by the CDC, including DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis), polio, MMR (mumps, measles, rubella), Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), HepB (hepatitis B), varicella (chickenpox), PCV (pneumococcal conjugate), HepA (hepatitis A), rotavirus, and annual influenza vaccinations.1 2 3 5 6
However, a separate annual report by the CDC on vaccination coverage for selected vaccines and exemption rates among children attending kindergarten found that vaccination rates for older children are noticeably higher. CDC researchers stated, “During the 2017–18 school year, median kindergarten vaccination coverage was close to 95% for MMR, DTaP, and varicella vaccine.”2 4
Reported vaccine coverage rates in states ranged from 94.3 to 99.4 percent for two doses of MMR; 95.1 to 99.4 percent for four or five doses of DTaP; and 93.8 to 99.4 percent for two doses of varicella vaccine.
The CDC’s recommended childhood vaccine schedule of 14 vaccines comprises a total of 50 “doses” of vaccines for all children through the age of six years. This includes seven doses of influenza; five doses each of diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis; four doses of Hib; four doses of PCV; three doses of HepB; three doses of polio; three doses of rotavirus; two doses each of measles, mumps and rubella; two doses of HepA; and two doses of varicella.7
The childhood vaccine schedule is developed according to recommendations made by a group of medical doctors, public health officials and consultants appointed by the CDC to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The childhood vaccine schedule is also evaluated and regularly endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).8
However, as noted by Rishma Parpia and Barbara Loe Fisher in a 2016 article in The Vaccine Reaction, a 2013 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule, “contradicts the firm position that the CDC, AAP and AAFP hold with respect to the safety of the schedule.” In that IOM report evaluating the scientific evidence for the safety of the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule for children from birth to age six, the IOM physician committee, “was only able to identify fewer than 40 scientific studies published since 2003 and clearly stated in the report that there are significant gaps in scientific knowledge about the safety of the early childhood vaccine schedule.”8
1 Hill HA, Elam-Evans LD, Yankey D, Singleton JA, Kang Y. Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19–35 Months — United States, 2017 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Oct. 12, 2018; 67(40);1123–1128.
2 Associated Press. Thousands of young U.S. children get no vaccines, survey finds. NBC News Oct. 11, 2018.
3 CBS/Associated Press. Growing number of U.S. children not vaccinated against any disease. CBS News Oct. 11, 2018.
4 Mellerson JL, Maxwell CB, Knighton CL, Kriss JL, Seither R, Black CL. Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2017–18 School Year. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Oct. 12, 2018; 67(40);1115–1122.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Aged 18 Years or Younger, United States, 2018. CDC.gov.
6 CDC. 14 Diseases You Almost Forgot About (Thanks to Vaccines). CDC.gov.
7 National Vaccine Information Center. 50 Doses of 14 Vaccines Before Age 6? 69 Doses of 16 Vaccines By Age 18? NVIC.org.
8 Parpia R, Fisher BL. Childhood Vaccine Schedule: Where is the Science? The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 6, 2016.