When It Comes To Day Care, Parents Want All Children Vaccinated

Originally published on December 9, 2014 8:07 am

There's been a lot of attention drawn to people who don't believe in vaccinating their children, but there are many more people who believe that vaccines are the best way to protect children from contagious disease. A recent poll shows just how concerned parents are about vaccines when it comes to putting their children in day care.

According to a poll conducted by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 81 percent of parents say they believe all children in day care should be required to be up to date on vaccines. In fact, 41 percent said children who aren't up to date should be kept out of day care.

Furthermore, 70 percent of parents said they would take their children out of a child care facility where one-quarter of the children were not fully vaccinated.

A majority of parents also believed that child care providers should take responsibility for getting children vaccinated — 74 percent said day care providers should be required to check the vaccines status of each of the children every year. Overall, just 10 percent of parents said children who aren't fully vaccinated should be allowed to attend child care without any penalty.

The researchers who conducted the poll say they hope the findings will start a conversation among parents and day care providers about vaccination policies.

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Now let's hear what parents said in a survey about vaccines. We have heard a lot from parents who refuse to get their children vaccinated. They have challenged the science showing that vaccines carry little risk. We do not hear so much from parents who do have kids vaccinated. And they are among the people whose views stand out in a University of Michigan poll. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: Researchers asked parents this question - if they knew a quarter of the children in their own child's day care was not fully vaccinated, would they take their child out? Research scientist Sarah Clark was surprised by the answer.

SARAH CLARK: Over 70 percent of parents said that they definitely or probably would consider doing that.

NEIGHMOND: A big deal, she says, since changing day care isn't easy for the parents or the child. And here's another surprise, 41 percent of parents said children who aren't up-to-date with vaccines should be excluded.

CLARK: Kind of like public school. If you don't have them, you're not getting in.

NEIGHMOND: But for many parents the bigger surprise may be this; the fact is federal health data show that 1 in 4 children actually aren't fully vaccinated, not because parents object to the vaccines. They just didn't make it to the doctor on time.

CLARK: Whether it's due to not being able to get an appointment, or family life just got too hectic, or they didn't really know they were supposed to come in. Well, those four-month shots get delayed until, let's say, five and half or six months.

NEIGHMOND: It's the one-year mark when vaccines are most often missed after routine well-baby visits aren't as regular. Vaccines like DTaP - diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis - measles and chickenpox. Clark says the findings should start a much-needed conversation between parents and day care providers about vaccine policies and how to change them to make sure children stay healthy. Patti Neighmond, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.