Vaccine uptake in Canadian children: Highlights from childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey

What is the childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (cNICS)?

cNICS is a survey conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada since 2011. It measures the percentage of children aged two, seven, 14 or 17 years that have received all of the recommended vaccines for their age group. This is done by a survey given to their parents.

Why this survey?

Results from national immunization coverage surveys provide information about how well Canadians are protected against vaccine preventable diseases as well as what they know and think about vaccines.

Survey results are used to

What did the 2015 survey results tell us?

Survey results in 2015 showed that a large majority of parents choose to get their children vaccinated. The results of the survey also indicate no major changes compared to the previous two surveys in 2011 and 2013 (Figure 1).

For vaccines requiring one dose by two years of age (in 2015):

  • 89% of children were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella;
  • 88% of children had received the meningococcal C vaccine.

For vaccines requiring multiple doses by two years of age (in 2015):

  • 77% of children had received all the recommended four doses for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and;
  • 80% had received the recommended number of doses of the pneumococcal vaccine.

Figure 1. Percentage of children vaccinated before their second birthday in 2011, 2013 and 2015

Figure 1 - Text Description
Percentage of children vaccinated before their second birthday in 2011, 2013 and 2015
Vaccine 2011 2013 2015
Diphtheria-tetanus-
pertussis (4 doses)
71 77 77
Measles-mumps-
rubella (1 dose)
89 89 89
Meningococcal C
(1 dose)
74 74 69
Pneumococcal
(3-4 doses)
85 89 88

What do Canadian parents think about vaccines?

To better understand the factors influencing decisions on vaccination, parents were asked about their views on vaccines (Figure 2).

  • In 2015, the large majority of parents (97%) agreed that childhood vaccines are safe and effective.
  • Compared to previous surveys, fewer parents reported being concerned about potential side effects of vaccines in 2015. The percentage dropped from 74% to 66% between 2011 and 2015.
  • In 2015, a smaller number of parents (15%) compared to 20% in 2011 believed that practices such as chiropractic and naturopathy can replace vaccines, which is not true.

Figure 2. Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of Canadian parents about vaccines in 2011, 2013, and 2015

Figure 2 - Text Description
Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of Canadian parents about vaccines in 2011, 2013, and 2015
Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs 2011 2013 2015
Vaccines are safe 95 95 97
Vaccines are effective 97 97 98
Concerned about side effects 74 70 66
Alternative practices can replace vaccines 20 19 15

When will more recent results be available?

A new iteration of cNICS has been conducted in the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018. Results will be available in 2019.

Did you know?

  • Routine vaccines prevent diseases that can cause severe complications or even death.
  • Diseases that used to be common for children are now rare in Canada. This is because of high vaccination coverage. Diseases like measles still exist. They can spread quickly when people are not vaccinated.
  • Vaccines are safe and effective. They go through many tests before they can be used in Canada.

Getting your children vaccinated gives them the protection they need to stay healthy.

For more information about the childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey (cNICS)

Technical reports are available for cNICS 2013 and 2015. To request PDF copies, please contact us at: circ-crcv@phac-aspc.gc.ca.

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