Vaccination status and needs of asylum-seeking children in Denmark: a retrospective data analysis.

Thursday, 3rd of May 2018 Print

Public Health. 2018 May;158:110-116. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2018.02.018. Epub 2018 Apr 10.

Vaccination status and needs of asylum-seeking children in Denmark: a retrospective data analysis.

Nakken CS1 Skovdal M1 Nellums LB2 Friedland JS3 Hargreaves S3 Norredam M4.

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Asylum seekers to Europe may come from war-torn countries where health systems have broken down and there is evidence that asylum-seeking children have low coverage of childhood vaccinations as well as uptake of immunisations in host countries. Such gaps in immunisation have important implications for effective national vaccination programmes. How we approach vaccination in children and adults entering Western Europe where as a group they face barriers to health services and screening is a growing debate; however there are limited data on the vaccination status of these hard-to-reach communities and robust evidence is needed to inform immunisation strategies. The aim of this study was to explore the vaccination status and needs of asylum-seeking children and adolescents in Denmark.


We conducted a retrospective data analysis of anonymised patient records for asylum-seeking children and adolescents extracted from the Danish Red Cross database.


We retrospectively searched the Danish Red Cross database for children and adolescents (aged 3 months-17 years) with active asylum applications in Denmark as of October 28 2015. Data were extracted for demographic characteristics vaccination status and vaccinations needed by asylum-seeking children presenting to Red Cross asylum centres for routine statutory health screening.


We explored the vaccination status and needs of 2126 asylum-seeking children and adolescents. About 64% of the study population were male and 36% were female. Eight nationalities were represented where 33% of the total of children and adolescents were not immunised in accordance with Danish national guidelines while 7% were considered partly vaccinated and 60% were considered adequately vaccinated. Afghan (57% not vaccinated/unknown) and Eritrean (54% not vaccinated/unknown) children were the least likely to be vaccinated of all nationalities represented as were boys (37% not vaccinated/unknown) compared with girls (27% not vaccinated/unknown) and children and adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years (48% not vaccinated/unknown) compared with 6- to 11-year olds (26%) and 0- to 5-year olds (22%). The health screenings resulted in 1328 vaccinations. The most commonly needed vaccines were diphtheria tetanus pertussis polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) which comprised 49% of the vaccines distributed followed by the pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) (28%) and measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine (23%).


The finding that nearly one-third of asylum-seeking children and adolescents in Denmark were in need of further vaccinations highlights the gaps in immunisation coverage in these populations. These results point to the need to improve access to health services and promote national vaccine programmes targeted at these communities to facilitate vaccination uptake and increase immunisation coverage to reduce the risk of preventable infectious diseases among asylum-seeking children.

Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


Asylum-seeking children; Denmark; Immunisation; Vaccination

PMID:29653865 DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2018.02.018

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