Beyond Vaccination Coverage: Population-Based Measurement of Early Childhood Immunization Schedule Adherence

Sophia R. Newcomer, Jason M. Glanz, Matthew F. Daley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The immunization schedule recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) provides a structure for how 10 different vaccine series should be administered to children in the first 18 months of life. Progress toward US early childhood immunization goals has largely focused on measuring vaccination coverage at age 24 months. However, standard vaccination coverage measures do not reflect whether children received vaccine doses by recommended ages, or whether vaccines were given concomitantly, per the schedule. In this paper, we describe innovations in population-level measurement of immunization schedule adherence through quantifying vaccination timeliness and undervaccination patterns. Measuring vaccination timeliness involves comparing when children received vaccine doses relative to ACIP age recommendations. To assess undervaccination patterns, children's vaccination histories are analyzed to determine whether they were vaccinated consistent with the ACIP schedule. Some patterns, such as spreading out vaccines across visits, are indicative of parental hesitancy. Other patterns, such as starting all recommended series but missing doses, are largely indicative of other immunization services delivery challenges. Since 2003, at least 12 studies have used National Immunization Survey-Child, immunization information system, or integrated health plan data to measure vaccination timeliness or undervaccination patterns at national or state levels. Moving forward, these novel measures can be leveraged for population-based surveillance of vaccine confidence, and for distinguishing undervaccination due to parental vaccine hesitancy from undervaccination due to other causes. Broader adoption of these measures can facilitate identification of targeted strategies for improving timely and routine early childhood vaccination uptake across the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • immunization schedule
  • vaccines, vaccine hesitancy
  • Vaccination Coverage
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines/therapeutic use
  • Immunization Programs
  • Child, Preschool
  • Infant
  • Immunization Schedule


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