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Keywords:

  • immunisation;
  • oncology;
  • paediatric;
  • questionnaire

Aim:  The aim of this survey was to identify the current practices of paediatric oncologists in Australia and New Zealand regarding the immunisation of children treated for cancer.

Methods:  The survey was a nine-part questionnaire of current immunisation practices emailed to all paediatric oncologists practising in Australia (nine centres) and New Zealand (three centres) in June 2006.

Results:  Overall response rate was 82% (37 of 45 oncologists). Ninety-four per cent of respondents would recommend commencing ‘booster’ vaccinations at 6 months post completion of chemotherapy, in keeping with the current guidelines. Seventy-four per cent would recommend varicella vaccination. Intensity of the chemotherapy treatment was felt to be important, with 97% recommending re-immunising after a high-intensity regimen and only 48% after a lower-intensity regimen. Sixty-nine per cent stated they would recommend yearly influenza vaccinations for their patients.

Conclusion:  This survey highlights the variability of practice in Australasia; for example, nearly one-third do not recommend yearly influenza vaccination for their patients. The level of chemotherapy intensity was an important factor for paediatric oncologists in determining whether ‘booster’ vaccinations were recommended. This is an important cancer survivorship issue and review of the evidence-base and implementation of these guidelines is required.