Background: To evaluate immunisation coverage, timeliness and predictors of delayed receipt in urban Australian Indigenous children during the first 18 months of life.
Methods: Cross-sectional retrospective analysis of data collected from 140 Australian Indigenous children aged < 5 years at the time of enrolment in a prospective cohort study on respiratory illness between 14 February 2013 and 28 January 2015. Children were recruited through an urban community primary health care centre in the Northern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland.
Results: The proportion of children with completed immunisation schedules was 50 of 105 (47.6%) at 7 months, 30 of 85 (35.3%) at 13 months and 12 of 65 (18.5%) at 19 months. Timely receipt of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis decreased from 78.4% at 2 months of age to 63.7 and 59.3% at 4 and 6 months respectively. Amongst the 105 parents/guardians with children ≥7 months at enrolment, 71 (67.6%) incorrectly reported their child’s immunisation status. Delayed vaccine receipt was significantly associated (p ≤0.05) with having multiple children in the household, mother’s unemployment and premature birth.
Conclusions: Coverage and timeliness among this population is suboptimal and decreases as children age. Parent/guardian reporting of vaccination status was unreliable. Children of unemployed mothers and those with multiple siblings should be targeted to improve community immunisation timeliness due to a greater risk of vaccination delay. High quality trials, conducted in several settings to account for the diversity of Australian Indigenous communities are urgently needed to identify culturally appropriate, effective and sustainable strategies to improve immunisation targets in children.