Main content area

The uptake of adolescent vaccinations through the School Immunisation Program in specialist schools in Victoria, Australia

O'Neill, Jenny, Newall, Fiona, Antolovich, Giuliana, Lima, Sally, Danchin, Margie
Vaccine 2019 v.37 no.2 pp. 272-279
Papillomaviridae, adolescents, children with disabilities, cohort studies, females, males, schools, students, vaccination, vaccines, Australia
As part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) students in Australia receive adolescent immunisations through the School Immunisation Program at 12 to 13 years. For children with disabilities attending specialist schools, no vaccine uptake data is collected at this time point. We aimed to determine uptake of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (dTpa) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunisations amongst young people with disabilities in specialist schools in Victoria.A prospective cohort study was conducted in Victoria, Australia. Data was collected on immunisation days in the 2017 school year from specialist schools in Victoria. The school immunisation coordinator entered data online for eligible students for receipt of dTpa and HPV on each school immunisation day. Demographic data, motor and intellectual function of students and reasons for non-receipt of dTpa and HPV vaccine were recorded. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.Of 73 eligible specialist schools in Victoria, 28 (38%) participated. dTpa was received by 63% (237/374) of participating students and HPV dose 1 (HPV1) was received by 66% (76/114) females and 67% (174/260) male students respectively. Three doses of HPV were received by only 41% (100/241) of students. The main reasons for missed immunisation were absence from school, lack of consent and inability to immunise due to the student’s behaviour and/or anxiety.This is the first study in Australia to report that uptake of adolescent immunisations in specialist schools for young people with a disability is significantly lower than in mainstream settings. Comparative data during the same time period for students in mainstream schools demonstrated higher uptake, at 89% for dTpa and 75% for three doses of HPV. These data highlight the inequity of receipt of school-based immunisations for this group of adolescents, the barriers to which could be more thoroughly explored through qualitative inquiry from a socio-ecological perspective.