Challenges in immunisation service delivery for refugees in Australia: A health system perspective

Volume 35, Issue 38, Pages 5081-5224 (12 September 2017)

Challenges in immunisation service delivery for refugees in Australia: A health system perspective
Original Research Article
Pages 5148-5155
Mahimbo, H. Seale, M. Smith, A. Heywood
Refugees are at risk of being under-immunised in their countries of origin, in transit and post-resettlement in Australia. Whilst studies have focused on identifying barriers to accessibility of health services among refugees, few focus on providers’ perspectives on immunisation service delivery to this group. Health service providers are well placed to provide insights into the pragmatic challenges associated with refugee health service delivery, which can be useful in identifying strategies aimed at improving immunisation coverage among this group.
A qualitative study involving 30 semi-structured interviews was undertaken with key stakeholders in immunisation service delivery across all States and Territories in Australia between December 2014 and December 2015. Thematic analysis was undertaken.
Variability in accessing program funding and vaccines, lack of a national policy for catch-up vaccination, unclear roles and responsibilities for catch-up, a lack of a central immunisation register and insufficient training among general practitioners were seen as the main challenges impacting on immunisation service delivery for refugees.
This study provides insight into the challenges that impact on effective immunisation service delivery for refugees. Deliberate strategies such as national funding for relevant vaccines, improved data collection nationally and increased guidance for general practitioners on catch-up immunisation for refugees would help to ensure equitable access across all age groups.