Most Parents Agree All Kids in Day Care Should Be Vaccinated

A young boy receives a vaccination from his doctor.
(Image credit: Oksana Kuzmina/

About three-quarters of parents would consider removing their child from a day care center if some of the other kids there were unvaccinated, a new survey found.

Most parents also believe that day care providers should check vaccine records every year, although currently, most states do not have laws requiring day cares to do so, according to the new findings from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

In the survey, a nationally representative sample of more than 600 parents of children up to age 5 were asked what they would do if they learned that 1 in 4 children in their day care center were not up-to-date with their vaccines. In response, 74 percent of parents said they would consider taking their kids out of that day care. [5 Dangerous Vaccination Myths]

At many day cares, it's quite possible that 1 in 4 kids are not fully vaccinated, said Sarah Clark, associate director of the poll.

"This scenario mirrors the national statistics that show approximately 25 percent of preschool children in the United States are not fully vaccinated," Clark said in a statement. "Parents may not realize that so many children are not up-to-date."

Though all states require vaccines for children who attend day care, most states don't require day cares to check kids' immunization status every year. As a result, some kids attending day care may not have received every recommended vaccine. The poll showed that most parents think day care providers should review vaccine records annually (52 percent said they strongly agreed, and an additional 22 percent said they agreed).

But how should day care providers deal with children who have not received all of their vaccines? Parents' responses varied. A large share of parents (41 percent) said unvaccinated children should be excluded from a day care center until their immunizations are up-to-date, but 28 percent said they would support a grace period to get the child vaccinated.

Another 21 percent said they would want the parents of not-fully-vaccinated children to get a waiver from their pediatrician, while only 1 in 10 parents said they would support allowing children to attend day care regardless of their immunization status.

Most parents (66 percent) said they thought they should be informed of the number of children at their day care center who were not up-to-date with their vaccines, which makes sense, Clark said.

"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," Clark said.

The report was published online today (Nov. 17).

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.