Vision at risk

October 2009

Research

Improving childhood immunisation coverage rates

Evaluation of a divisional program

Volume 38, No.10, October 2009 Pages 833-835

Hammad Ali

Nicholas A Zwar

Jo Wild

Background

In contrast to generally high childhood immunisation coverage rates across Australia, general practices in central Sydney (New South Wales) have a below average coverage rate. To address this, Central Sydney GP Network undertook a project that involved visiting practices with less than 90% coverage and provided guidance and support to increase coverage.

Methods

The intervention was evaluated using quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative component analysed practice coverage rate data from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register. The qualitative component included semistructured interviews with general practitioners and practice staff.

Results

Quantitative analysis showed that rates for a number of practices with initial coverage between 80–90% increased to more than 90% during the intervention. The qualitative component highlighted patient and practice related issues around coverage and reporting.

Discussion

Many practice related coverage and reporting issues were identified; the majority are modifiable and thus practices can be targeted to improve coverage. However, some patient related issues are complex and not easily addressed.

Childhood immunisation programs currently save 3 million lives per year throughout the world and are one of the most cost effective public health interventions.1,2 Before implementation of the Immunise Australia Program and the General Practice Immunisation Incentives (GPII) scheme, rates of immunisation in Australia were considered to be too low to prevent transmission of some vaccine preventable diseases.3,4 Since commencement of these initiatives, average practice immunisation coverage rates have increased to more than 90%.5

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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