Objectives: Typically, early childhood vaccination coverage in the U.S. is measured as the proportion of children by age 24 months who completed recommended vaccine series. However, these measures do not reflect whether vaccine doses were received at the ages recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or whether children received vaccines concomitantly, per the ACIP recommended schedule. This study's objective was to quantify vaccine timeliness and prevalence of specific patterns of undervaccination in U.S. children ages 0–19 months. Methods: Using 2017 National Immunization Survey-Child data, we calculated days undervaccinated for the combined 7-vaccine series and distinguished undervaccination patterns indicative of parental vaccine hesitancy, such as spreading out vaccines across visits (“shot-limiting”) or starting some but not all recommended vaccine series (“selective vaccination”), from other non-hesitancy patterns, such as missing final vaccine doses or receiving all doses, with some or all late. We measured associations between demographic, socioeconomic and other characteristics with undervaccination patterns using multivariable log-linked binomial regression. Analyses accounted for the complex survey design. Results: Among n = 15,333 U.S. children, only 41.2% received all recommended vaccine doses on-time by age 19 months. Approximately 20.9% of children had an undervaccination pattern suggestive of parental vaccine hesitancy, and 36.2% had other undervaccination non-hesitancy patterns. Uninsured children and those with lower levels of maternal education were more likely to exhibit undervaccination patterns suggestive of parental hesitancy. Lower levels of maternal education were also associated with other non-hesitancy undervaccination patterns. Conclusions: More than half of children in the U.S. are undervaccinated at some point by 19 months of age. Ongoing assessment of vaccine timeliness and immunization schedule adherence could facilitate timely and targeted public health interventions in populations with high levels of undervaccination.
- Childhood immunisation