Mental health

June 2011


Recommending vaccination

General practice intervention with new parents

Volume 40, No.6, June 2011 Pages 437-439

Tracy Cheffins

Margaret Spillman

Sarah Larkins

Clare Heal


Parents can be the source of vaccine preventable diseases that their children contract. The vaccination status of parents may not be readily available, and uptake rates are affected by factors such as complexity of vaccination schedules, personal perception of risks, and physician recommendation.


Parents at eight general practices in North Queensland had immunisation histories recorded and vaccine recommendations made when they brought in their infants for vaccination. They were followed up by practice nurses after 2 months. This article describes parental immunisation status at eight general practices and examines whether parents in these clinics acted on recommendations for vaccination.


Vaccination was recommended for 66.1% of parents. Of these parents, 53% complied, resulting in improved up-to-date vaccination status from 33.9–68.9% (p<0.0001).


Taking an immunisation history from parents and recommending specific vaccinations to them is likely to be a worthwhile intervention to add to general practice consultations for childhood vaccinations. Trialling this intervention in a broader cross section of general practices would be a useful next step.

While 80% of notified pertussis infections in Australia occur in adults, 80% of deaths from pertussis occur in infants aged 2 months or younger.1,2 It is estimated that parents are the source of their infant’s infection in 15–55% of cases.3–5 The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends vaccination of all adults that reside with infants6 (although recent modelling suggests this might only be of modest benefit7).

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