Exploring Factors That Influence Vaccination Uptake for Children with Refugee Backgrounds: An Interpretive Description Study of Primary Healthcare Providers’ Perspectives
Background Children with refugee backgrounds are at high risk of acquiring vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) due to a complex set of factors, one being under-immunisation. In Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ), reported age-appropriate vaccination rates are suboptimal among children with refugee backgrounds.
Methods A qualitative interpretive description study was undertaken to explore factors associated with access and uptake of immunisations and develop strategies to improve age-appropriate vaccinations among refugee children post-resettlement in NZ. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with healthcare providers (nurses and doctors) (N = 14) across seven resettlement locations in NZ. Collected data was transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.
Results Five themes were derived from the data that demonstrate the interrelated factors that influence vaccination uptake across the refugee caregiver, health provider and system levels. Providers discussed how caregivers’ competing resettlement priorities and challenges early in the resettlement phase influenced their knowledge and access of vaccines and health services in NZ. Providers’ knowledge of refugee caregivers’ concerns was seen as a driver for positive change in forming therapeutic relationships with, and delivering health services to, former refugees. They discussed system level factors that influence access to and provision of immunisation services, such as resourcing, resettlement policies, system inefficiencies and missed opportunities. Emphasis was placed on communication between patients and providers to facilitate positive immunisation experiences. Overwhelming, providers displayed high motivation to improve immunisation services. Strategies were suggested to overcome identified barriers and included the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate resources, education campaigns, reducing access barriers (e.g., after-hours clinics), and improving system efficiencies.
Conclusions These findings highlight root factors that impact immunisation uptake and experiences among children with refugee backgrounds. To reduce the burden of VPDs, broad system level changes are required to address the barriers to vaccine uptake faced by both families of refugee backgrounds and health providers.