Partial Immunization Leaves Children and Communities at Risk, Study Finds

Robert Fulton

July 25, 2023


A new American Academy of Pediatrics study reveals that 17.2% of toddlers started but did not finish at least one recommended early childhood vaccine series.


  • Examined data collected in 2019 from the National Immunization Survey - Child.

  • 16,365 children ages 19-35 months were included.

  • Vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, pneumococcal infections, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella were included.


  • 72.9% of toddlers completed the seven-vaccine series.

  • 17.2% initiated but did not complete one or more of a multidose vaccine series.

  • The strongest association with not completing the vaccine series was moving across state lines and not having insurance.

  • Children with more siblings at home were less likely to complete a vaccine series.


The study suggests that the "children experienced structural barriers to vaccination," and the authors urge an "increased focus on strategies to encourage multidose series optimize protection from preventable diseases and achieve vaccination coverage goals."


The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and published online July 25 in Pediatrics. Sarah Michels, an epidemiology specialist from the University of Montana in Missoula, was the lead author.


Though the researchers studied the risk factors for series noncompletion, they did not have information on the specific reasons why children were missing vaccine doses. Children whose parents chose to participate in the National Immunization Survey - Child may have had higher vaccination coverage than children whose parents declined participation.


The authors have reported no relevant financial relationships.

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