Can GPs help boost weak COVID-19 vaccination rates among Australian children? | Wbactive

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Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia has been rapid, with vaccination rates for younger children initially matching those of adults and adolescents, but plateaued in March 2022, with only 51% of Australian children aged 5 to 11 years old Received a first dose in October 2022.

Common practice, argue the authors of a perspective published today Medical Journal of Australiais the ideal framework to promote an increase in the vaccination coverage of children.

“Although the reasons for the plateau are unclear, rising pediatric infection rates since early 2022, mostly associated with mild COVID-19, may have reduced parents’ perceived urgency or need for vaccination,” the authors, led by Dr . Katelyn Barnes, a senior research fellow at the Australian National University.

“The proportion of Australian children vaccinated against COVID-19 is much lower than long-scheduled childhood immunizations, with more than 95% of all Australian children (5 years of age and older) being vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and poliomyelitis. “Dr. Barnes and colleagues wrote.

“However, the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Australian children (5 years of age and older) is greater than the proportion of those vaccinated against influenza (about 30% in 2020, up 3% from 2019), suggesting that the promotion of COVID -19 vaccine has gained traction despite challenges.

“Increasing immunization coverage in Australian children is important to reduce the potential for COVID-19-related child development disorders. Accordingly, strategies are needed to address relative delays in child COVID-19 vaccine uptake.”

dr Barnes and colleagues listed several reasons for delaying COVID-19 vaccination in children, including concerns by caregivers about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines or misunderstandings of the risks of COVID-19 infection and the benefits of vaccination for children; Communication difficulties and changing information can be problematic in culturally and linguistically diverse high-risk groups; Access to vaccination and follow-up care for subsequent doses has proven difficult for socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.

“The GP practice is the ideal setting to promote childhood acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia,” they wrote.

“To date, Australian primary care facilities have distributed over 60% of the nationally administered COVID-19 vaccines, with 6884 locations in general practices (n=3896), community pharmacies (n=2776), Aboriginal controlled health services (n=136 ) and Commonwealth vaccination clinics (n = 76) run by general practitioners.

“About 50% of Australia’s total of 63 million vaccine doses were administered through GP surgeries.

“GPs and general practitioners are trusted vaccine providers and information sources who have developed relationships with children and their family members.

“They are trained in techniques for difficult vaccinations such as needle phobia or sensory sensitivities, have the ability and experience to manage complications, and can coordinate care and referral for patients who need increased support or specialized interventions.”

dr Barnes and colleagues said that broader strategies to help general practitioners reduce vaccine hesitancy “include primary care sites working with community leaders and local media (when possible) and even social media (when relevant) to provide tailored but consistent To support messages about the importance and safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines alongside the individual and community benefits of vaccination.”

“Messages should be clear and presented in multiple formats and languages. Partnering with community leaders will help articulate clear and meaningful messages and build trust, especially for culturally and linguistically diverse groups.

“Consistent messaging to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance should be provided in all healthcare settings (general offices, community pharmacies and hospitals) and in general community settings (schools and community centers).

“Primary care plays an important role in supporting childhood acceptance and access to COVID-19 vaccines,” concluded Drs. Barnes and his colleagues.

“The GP practice is a key environment where trusting relationships with patients, families and the community can be leveraged to increase and sustain the acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among Australian children.”

More information:
Katelyn Barnes et al, Primary care is the ideal setting to promote COVID-19 immunization for children, Medical Journal of Australia (2022). DOI: 10.5694/mja2.51769

Provided by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA)

Citation: Can GPs help boost weak COVID-19 vaccination rates among Australian children? (2022, November 21) Retrieved November 23, 2022 from

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