Immunisation for refugees in Australia: a policy review and analysis across all States and Territories

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Abstract

Objective:

Although people of refugee background are likely to be under-immunised before and after resettlement, no study to date has evaluated refugee specific immunisation policies in Australia. We developed a framework to analyse immunisation policies across Australia to highlight the strengths and gaps so as to inform development of more effective refugee specific immunisation policies.

Methods:

We sourced publicly available immunisation policy documents from state and territory government websites. Content analysis of seven policy documents was undertaken using a developed framework comprising crucial policy determinants.

Results:

Immunisation policy differed substantially across the jurisdictions. While most policies did not highlight the importance of data collection on immunisation for refugees and the public funding of vaccines for refugees, policy determinants such as accessibility and obligations were fulfilled by most jurisdictions.

Conclusion:

Our findings indicate stark differences in immunisation policy for people of refugee background across Australia. Highlighted gaps demonstrate the need to revise current policies so that they are aligned with their intended outcome of enhancing uptake of vaccines and improving immunisation coverage among resettled refugees in Australia.

Implications for public health:

Immunisation policy development for refugees needs to be robust enough to ensure equitable health services to this group.

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