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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Tactics employed by healthcare providers in Denmark to determine the vaccination needs of asylum-seeking children: a qualitative study

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BACKGROUND: Many asylum-seekers to Denmark come from war-torn countries where conflict and insufficient health care infrastructures disrupt vaccine programmes and result in very few children and their families presenting documentation of vaccinations on their arrival in asylum-centers. There is a need to explore how healthcare providers, in the absence of vaccine documentation, determine the vaccination needs of newly arrived refugee children.

METHODS: To explore the tactics employed by healthcare professionals who screen and vaccinate asylum-seeking children in Denmark, we conducted semi-structured interviews between December 2015 and January 2016 with six healthcare professionals, including three doctors and three public health nurses. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and subjected to a thematic network analysis.

RESULTS: The analysis revealed that healthcare providers adopt a number of tactics to ascertain children's immunization needs. They ask into the children's vaccination history through the use of qualified interpreters; consult WHO lists of immunization programmes worldwide; draw on tacit knowledge about country vaccination programmes; consider the background of parents; err on the side of caution and revaccinate.

CONCLUSIONS: This is one of the first studies to demonstrate the tactics employed by healthcare providers to ascertain the immunization needs of asylum-seeking children in a western receiving country. The findings suggest a need for clear guidance at a national level on how to determine the vaccination needs of asylum-seeking children, and an international effort to secure reliable immunization documentation for migrant populations, for example through virtual immunization records.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume18
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)859
ISSN1472-6963
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2018

ID: 55650712