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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(4):413-8.

Measles vaccination coverage among five-year-old children: implications for disease elimination in Australia.

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National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, University of Sydney, New South Wales.



To (i) assess under-reporting of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR); (ii) estimate MMR coverage among five-year-old children and the proportion immune to measles infection; (iii) identify factors related to non-uptake of MMR vaccination.


We analysed ACIR data for a birth cohort of approximately 64,000 children aged five years. The parents of a sample of 506 children with no ACIR record for the second MMR vaccination (MMR2), due at four years of age, were interviewed by telephone to assess under-reporting to the ACIR and reasons for non-uptake of MMR vaccination.


Parents reported that 22% (n = 111) of the surveyed 506 children had received MMR2 before their fifth birthday, and 42% (n = 214) by approximately 5.5 years of age. After correcting for this level of under-reporting to the ACIR, MMR2 coverage for the entire cohort at five years of age was 52.9% (95% CI 52.3-53.4), and increased to 84.1% (95% CI 83.4-84.8) by approximately 5.5 years of age. This was 4.3% and 8.2%, respectively, higher than ACIR coverage estimates at the two ages. Based on the corrected MMR coverage estimates, 93% of the cohort was immune to measles due to vaccination. The most common parent-reported reason for incomplete vaccination was lack of knowledge about the MMR vaccination schedule.


Measles elimination in Australia will require continued effort in vaccination coverage and timeliness among pre-school children. School-entry requirements are important for MMR2 uptake. Strategies are needed to improve reporting to the ACIR for more accurate measurement of coverage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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