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Disadvantaged children at greater risk of not being vaccinated

With 1 in 10 Australian infants at risk of severe illness because they are not up to date with their vaccines, research has found infants from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to be immunised.

A study conducted by the University of Adelaide and University College London examined barriers stopping Australian parents from getting their kids vaccinated. Researchers analysed individual data drawn from 5000 Australian children aged 3 to 19 months. Researchers found 91 per cent of kids are up to date with immunisations but discovered kids from poorer backgrounds were less likely to be vaccinated – not just those whose parents who are anti-vaccination.

Associate professor Helen Marshall, from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, said the main factors related to not being immunised included lack of access to services, being a child of a single parent and being part of a large family.

“Children with chronic medical conditions were also more likely not to be up to date with immunisations,” Marshall said. “This is possibly due to parents and healthcare providers having a lack of knowledge about additional vaccines that are recommended for children with certain medical conditions, or concerns vaccines may have adverse effects in these children.”

Marshall hopes these new findings can inform programs aimed at increasing vaccination rates. She said most parents with partially vaccinated children are pro-vaccines.

“Reminders and rescheduling of cancelled appointments and offering immunisation in different settings may help achieve better protection for children and the community,” Marshall said. “We need to look at how we can remove the barriers experienced by these families.”

The study’s findings are published in the journal Vaccine.

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