East African immigrant children in Australia have poor immunisation coverage

Georgia A. Paxton, James Rice, Gabrielle Davie, Jonathan R. Carapetis, Susan A. Skull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To provide data on the immunisation status of recently arrived East African children and adolescents in Australia. 

Methods: A prospective audit was conducted at a hospital-based paediatric immigrant health clinic, in Melbourne, Australia, over the time period November 2000-January 2002. Study subjects were consecutive children and adolescents born in East Africa, arriving in Australia after January 1998. Vaccination status was ascertained by parent report and review of patient-held records where available, and by serological testing for immunity to hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, rubella and measles. 

Results: Among 136 participants, 132 (97%) had incomplete or unknown immunisation status based on parent report and vaccination records; written records were available for 5/136 (4%) of participants. Only 21/136 (15%) had serological immunity to all five of measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and hepatitis B, despite a total of 395 visits to vaccine providers by participants since migration. A higher proportion of children had serological immunity to measles (90%) compared to the proportion with serological immunity to rubella (77%), tetanus (61%), diphtheria (45%) and hepatitis B (33%). The predictive value of parent-reported vaccination status for serological immunity was poor. 

Conclusions: Paediatric East African immigrants in Victoria are very likely to be inadequately immunised and parent-reported vaccination status does not predict serological immunity. Full catch-up immunisation is recommended where immunisation status is unknown and written records are unavailable. Consideration should be given to policy and program development to provide timely and complete immunisation coverage in this group after arrival in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)888-892
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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