Most parents share the view that all children in daycare centers should be vaccinated.They also want daycare providers to check vaccination records every year, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.
All states require vaccines for children who attend daycare, but those requirements may not include every vaccine from birth to age 5 years. As a result, some children still don't receive all recommended vaccines—leaving daycare providers and parents to decide how to handle the situation of a child who is not up-to-date on vaccines.
In this national sample of parents of child 0-5 years, most indicate that daycare providers should review children's immunization status every year to ensure they are up-to-date (52 percent strongly agree, 22 percent agree).
"Results of this poll indicate that most parents want strong policies around making sure children in daycare are up-to-date on vaccines," says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H. , associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics. "Checking vaccination records every year is beyond the scope of many state requirements, and may represent a significant change in practice at many daycares."
The poll gave parents a scenario where 1 in 4 children in their daycare center were not up-to-date on vaccines. In response to this scenario, 74 percent of parents would consider removing their own child from the daycare.
"This scenario mirrors the national statistics that show approximately 25 percent of preschool children in the United States are not fully vaccinated," says Clark. "Parents may not realize that so many children are not up-to-date; in some daycares, this scenario is a reality."
When asked about how daycare centers should deal with a child who is not up-to-date on vaccines, 41 percent of parents support excluding the child until all vaccines are received; 28 percent would allow a grace period to get the child vaccinated, and 21 percent would insist that the parents seek a waiver from the child's doctor. Only 1 in 10 parents would support allowing a child to attend daycare regardless of not being up-to-date on vaccines.
Two-thirds of parents indicate they should be informed of the number of children at their daycare center who are not up-to-date on vaccines. But only 25 percent of parents believe they should receive the names of children who are not up-to-date on vaccines.
"Our poll finding that parents want to know the number of children lacking vaccines makes sense," says Clark. "That information might help parents understand the risk that their child could contract a vaccine-preventable disease - or transmit the disease to a vulnerable family member, such as a person with cancer.
"The bottom line is this poll shows that parents of young children have real concerns about whether vaccination standards are upheld in the daycare setting. Parents should feel empowered to ask about daycare vaccination policies, such as how the daycare handles the situation of children who are not up-to-date, and whether they check children's vaccination status every year."