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J Immigr Health. 2001 Jan;3(1):47-52.

Lack of immunization documentation in Minnesota refugees: challenges for refugee preventive health care.

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Acute Disease Prevention Services Section, Minnesota Department of Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


Children and adults immigrating to the United States without documentation of vaccinations or evidence of immunity should receive age-appropriate immunizations. To learn how often immunization documentation is lacking, we reviewed medical screening records of 1,389 primary refugees over 18 months of age who came Minnesota during 1998. Restricting our analysis to those age groups for whom specific immunizations are recommended, 81.1% of refugees lacked documentation of receiving three doses of diphtheria and tetanus vaccines; 78.8% lacked documentation of one dose of measles vaccine, and 63.8% lacked documentation of three doses of polio vaccine. Of refugees without a known positive test for hepatitis B antigen or antibody, 99.5% lacked documentation of receiving three doses of hepatitis B vaccine. Documentation rates decreased with increasing age, and were lowest for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa (p < 0.001). Refugees and other immigrants may face a number of barriers to receiving necessary immunizations. Health care providers seeing these new arrivals need to ensure that they do fail to receive recommended vaccinations and other preventive health care.


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