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Keywords:

  • child;
  • immunisation;
  • infant;
  • vaccine

Aim:  To determine the accuracy and effectiveness of opportunistic immunisation of children admitted to the paediatric unit of a large teaching hospital using retrospectively collected data.

Methods:  Immunisation status, documented using clinical indicator (CI) forms, of all admissions over a 1-year period was compared with that recorded by the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register. In order to determine the effectiveness of providing catch-up plans, we analysed the difference in catch-up times of the children with and without a catch-up plan on their CI form.

Results:  The details of 614 admissions in the study period were included. Comparing the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register with the CI for assessing immunisation status, we found that 83 of the 573 (14.5%) were incorrectly recorded, and only 25 of the 82 admissions in which the infant was overdue were identified on the ward. Children were more likely to be vaccinated within 30 days and 90 days of admission if they had been given a catch-up plan. Of the children who had not been given a catch-up plan, almost half were still overdue at 90 days.

Conclusions:  Admission to hospital provides opportunities for both routine and catch-up immunisation; however, for opportunistic immunisation to be effective, health service screening and immunisation documentation must be accurate.