Immunization status of Casualty attenders: Risk factors for non-compliance and attitudes to ‘on the spot’ immunization


  • K. Jones, MB, BS, Resident Medical Officer. B. Fasher, MB, BS, FRACP, Head, Casualty and Outpatient Department. R. Hanson, MB, BS, BSc (Med), FRACP, Staff Specialist in Accident and Emergency. M. Burgess, MD, FRACP, Physician in Preventive Medicine. D. Isaacs, MD, MRCP, FRACP. Head, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. P. Joshi, MB, BS, Resident Medical Officer. R. Blanch, CNC, Well Baby Clinic Sister. J. Byrne, ADN, Area Co-ordinator, Casualty and Outpatient Department

Dr M. Burgess, Physician in Preventive Medicine, The Children's Hospital, PO Box 34, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.


Abstract Outbreaks of vaccine preventable infections have focused attention on ‘missed opportunities’ for immunizing children. The immunization status of 520 consecutive children attending Casualty during a 10 day period was studied. Only 70% of children had received their diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) and poliomyelitis immunization at the appropriate time, 13% had completed the schedule later than recommended and 17% had immunizations overdue by 4 weeks or more. For measles (mumps/rubella) vaccine (MM or MMR) 75% were up to date, 10% were given late and 15% were overdue.

A subset of 171 families was interviewed to evaluate factors affecting compliance. Families possessing a Social Security ‘Health Care Card’, whose father was unemployed, who spoke poor English or who had lived in Australia for 5 years or less were significantly more likely (P<0.02) to be inadequately immunized. There were 84 children whose immunization was overdue and who were well enough to be immunized. The parents of 70 (83%) of these 84 said that they would agree to ‘on the spot’ immunization if it were available; 14 (17%) parents refused, the commonest reason for refusal being that the parents felt that the child was too sick at the time to be immunized.