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Immunisation practices of paediatric oncologists: An Australasian survey

Authors

  • Nigel W Crawford,

    Corresponding author
    1. NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Child and Adolescent Immunisation,
    2. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute,
    3. Immunisation Service, Department of General Medicine, Royal Children’s Hospital,
    4. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and
      Dr Nigel W Crawford, Immunisation Adverse Events Surveillance Unit, Department of General Medicine, 5th Floor, AP1 Building, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9345 4751; email: nigel.crawford@rch.org.au
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  • John A Heath,

    1. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute,
    2. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and
    3. Children’s Cancer Centre, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Jim P Buttery

    1. NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Child and Adolescent Immunisation,
    2. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute,
    3. Immunisation Service, Department of General Medicine, Royal Children’s Hospital,
    4. Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and
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  • Declaration of competing interests: The authors declare they have no competing interests.

Dr Nigel W Crawford, Immunisation Adverse Events Surveillance Unit, Department of General Medicine, 5th Floor, AP1 Building, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 3 9345 4751; email: nigel.crawford@rch.org.au

Abstract

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.

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