Skip to content

Survey shows rising opposition to childhood vaccinations

Angus Reid Institute reports parental opposition to childhood vaccination grows as Canadians worry about harms of anti-vax movement

A new Angus Reid survey said while most Canadians continue to believe it would be irresponsible not to vaccinate children against numerous childhood diseases, there appears to be growing opposition among some parents to the idea of such vaccinations.

The new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds seven-in-10 Canadians (71 per cent) feeling the anti-vaccination movement is going to lead to unnecessary illness and suffering in the population.

The survey company said there appears to be growing skepticism about vaccine efficacy among Canadians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – especially among parents with children younger than 18.

One-in-six parents of minors (17 per cent) say they are “really against” vaccinating their kids, a four-fold increase from 2019, said the survey.

There has also been a simultaneous 15-point decrease (70 per cent in 2019 vs. 55 per cent in 2024) in the proportion of Canadians who support mandatory childhood vaccination in schools,  a policy in place in Ontario and New Brunswick. Opposition to this idea has risen correspondingly from one-quarter (24 per cent) to closer to two-in-five (38 per cent).

Also, more than half (52 per cent) of those with children younger than 18 say that it should be the parents’ decision whether to vaccinate. That proportion drops to 32 per cent for those who do not have children under 18.

In 2024, views of vaccinations vary across the country, from those who are completely confident in their efficacy, to those who feel they should not be given at all.

What is notable within the debate is that there has been little change in the proportion of those who say opposing child vaccination is irresponsible. In 2015, 2019, and 2024, between 72 per cent and 75 per cent of Canadians have held this view, said the survey. 

The survey also revealed that older Canadians, perhaps those who witnessed how the Salk vaccine stopped massive outbreaks of the polio virus in the 1950s, remained as solid supporters of medical vaccines. That attitude is not widespread, said the survey company.

"The COVID-19 vaccination push appears to have engendered a newfound skepticism when it comes to vaccination overall. While older Canadians, those who were more supportive of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the pandemic, given their heightened risk of serious illness, are consistent in their belief of the efficacy of vaccines in preventing illness in the wider population, there has been an increase in vaccine skepticism among all other groups, but especially men under 55," said the survey.

While Canadians are less likely to doubt the science of vaccines than they were in 2015, when Angus Reid Institute previously polled on the subject, Canadians are more likely to believe there could be side effects than they were nine years ago. Three-in-ten (29 per cent) believe the science on vaccinations isn’t settled, while one-third (34 per cent) worry of the potential of serious side effects:

Details of the latest survey and charts showing age groups can be found online here.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for

Reader Feedback

Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
Read more