Immunization status of children at kindergarten entry in Alberta, Canada

Little is known about immunization coverage among kindergarten-aged children in jurisdictions that do not require children’s immunization records to be provided at school entry. Thus, we assessed immunization coverage and associated characteristics of a 2008 birth cohort of Alberta children at kindergarten entry as compared with at the end of grade one.

This retrospective cohort study used population-based administrative health data for childhood vaccines in Alberta, Canada. We categorized and compared immunization status of children as follows: (a) complete at kindergarten entry; (b) incomplete at kindergarten entry but complete at the end of grade one; and (c) still incomplete at the end of grade one.

To assess factors associated with immunization status, we used multinomial logistic regression. Immunization coverage for the complete vaccine series for children (N = 41,515) at kindergarten entry was sub-optimal (44.5%, 95% CI 44.0–45.0) and substantially lower than for children at the end of grade one (74.8%, 95% CI 74.3–75.2).

Young maternal age, not living with a partner, and having > 1 child in a household were associated with incomplete immunization status at kindergarten entry. Midwife-assisted hospital and home delivery was strongly associated with incomplete immunization status at the end of grade one.

Immunization coverage at kindergarten entry was strikingly low. Risk factors for incomplete immunization status were identified that require particular attention when addressing immunization coverage. The school-based catch-up immunization program in grade one seems to have substantially improved coverage among children, suggesting a potential benefit of shifting the catch-up program from grade one to kindergarten entry.

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Dhungana M, O’Brien C, Hoben M, MacDonald SE

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