Protecting Australia – closing the gap in immunisation for migrants and refugees. Proceedings from a stakeholder workshop

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Abstract
Health inequity and provision of health care to resettled refugees and new migrants are complex and critical issues worldwide. These groups often have lower rates of health care utilisation and poor access to care and preventive services. As such, refugees and migrants are at increased risk of under-immunisation compared to Australian-born residents and higher rates of many vaccine-preventable diseases are reported in migrant Australians, particularly after travel. There are numerous barriers to addressing low immunisation coverage for migrants and refugees, particularly ensuring equitable access to funded vaccines. The Centre for Research Excellence in Population Health (CRE) “Immunisation in under-studied and special risk populations: Closing the gap in knowledge through a multidisciplinary approach” is dedicated to identifying and addressing research gaps with important immunisation policy implications for high risk and marginalised populations. On the 9th August, 2013 the CRE hosted a stakeholder workshop: Immunisation policy for migrants, refugees and travellers. This report describes the key immunisation issues and recommendations specific to migrants and refugees discussed in the first half of the forum. This national workshop convened relevant stakeholders with an interest in refugee and migrant health enabling a considered and focused discussion of risks, gaps and areas for future policy direction. This workshop is the first national meeting dedicated to immunisation needs of migrants and refugees to be held, and the first time during which stakeholders from relevant sectors have been brought together as a group to discuss these issues. Universal access to immunisation, including catch-up immunisation, has wider public health benefits for Australia beyond the benefits to the individual. Low rates of immunisation in newly arrived migrants and refugees pose a risk to their own health and to the ongoing success of the largest publicly-funded preventive program in Australia, the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Failure to address immunisation gaps at a coordinated national level in these vulnerable groups will lead to ongoing risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases. The report summarises key findings and recommendations arising from the workshop and workshop discussion forum.
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Author(s)
Heywood, Anita
Macintyre, Raina
Kpozehouen, Elizabeth
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Publication Year
2014
Resource Type
Report
Degree Type
UNSW Faculty