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The Voice of Nursing Education

Immunization Challenges with Migrant Children

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A global effort to provide immunizations to children throughout the world has been a priority for decades. Many children are properly immunized in their homelands through reliable health agencies and international charities. However, due to the fragile nature of vaccines, there are challenges that accompany the process of transport and administration in developing countries. Vaccines and sterile equipment are often difficult to deliver in rough terrain. It may be impossible for families with young children to travel to the immunization site due to poor road conditions. Temperature controls often vary during lengthy trips and cause discrepancies in viral effectiveness. In addition, there are often insufficient skilled health care workers in the field to administer the vaccines.

Migrant children from developing countries may have been partially immunized previously, but certain variables may have interfered with the administration, timeliness, and effectiveness of the vaccines. Titers can be drawn to identify antibody status. Furthermore, multiple research studies (CDC and WHO) suggest that immunizations are safe to be repeated. The live viruses of polio and MMR need to be re-administered due to unreliable temperature controls at immunization facilities.

Health care workers have a distinct challenge when attempting to determine the current immunization status of newly arrived migrant families. An initial physical assessment is completed for all individuals who pass through a border station. Gross assessments are completed to determine health status and contagion. Immunization status is evaluated during this assessment to coincide with underlying disease processes. Immunization planning and education are generally initiated at the time of arrival, and a plan is developed for the ongoing schedule of vaccines.

Immunization Challenges with Migrant Children