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Immunisation coverage in children with cerebral palsy compared with the general population


  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Dr Victoria Greenwood, Department of Developmental Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia. Fax: +61 03 9345 5871; email:



To compare immunisation coverage of a cerebral palsy (CP) cohort with the known general population vaccination coverage statistics.


A cohort of children with CP aged less than 7 years was extracted from the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Register. The vaccination status of these children was compared with the general population using the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR). Details that were audited included overall ‘up-to-date’ status of immunisations and individual vaccines missed.


The CP cohort consisted of 449 children. Eighty-six or 19.2% (95% confidence intervals 15.6–23.1%) of these children were not ‘up to date’ (NUTD) with the Australian immunisation schedule at the time of the ACIR data link (13 March 2009). This NUTD result is well above the general population percentage (range 6.4–8%). This group was divided into subgroups based on age, with all groups having significantly lower rates of immunisation, varying from 100% NUTD in the youngest subgroup to 18.6% in the oldest subgroup. The most common vaccine NUTD was MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), followed by polio and DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis).


This study demonstrates that children with CP are at high risk of incomplete and delayed immunisation, a significant problem given the increased health-care needs of this patient group and their increased vulnerability to the complications of vaccine-preventable diseases.