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Aust Fam Physician. 2007 Jun;36(6):440-2, 444.

Better primary health care for refugees - catch up immunisation.

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Social Foundations of Medicine, Medical School, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Australian National University, Australia.



Many newly arrived refugees come from countries with fragile primary health infrastructure. As a result they may have had patchy primary immunisation against vaccine preventable diseases.


This article outlines key considerations in developing an effective catch up immunisation program for refugees.


The potential challenges include knowing which vaccines to give to provide catch up vaccination, access to appropriate vaccines through public health units, and adequate follow up to support completion of immunisation courses. The most useful immunisations for adolescent and adult refugees are adult diphtheria/tetanus, measles/mumps/rubella, inactivated polio, and hepatitis B vaccines. Immunisation programs for refugees require cooperation between primary health care practitioners and health policy makers to ensure that good primary health care is available to the most vulnerable groups arriving in Australia.

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