Auditing rates of Influenza and Pneumococcal vaccination amongst an “at risk” population of Aboriginal adults in remote Western Australia: A possible role for Aboriginal health workers in service delivery

Dr Vishal Bulsara1, Dr Marianne Wood2

1South Metropolitan Health Service, Murdoch, Australia, 2Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, Highgate, Australia

Aboriginal Australian adults are thought to suffer from influenza and pneumococcal disease at the same frequency as the general population but they are significantly more likely to be hospitalised or die from these vaccine preventable illnesses than the general population. The Australian Immunisation Handbook, produced by the Department Of Health (DOH) therefore recommends several additional vaccinations for Aboriginal Australians over and above those recommended in the standard schedules of vaccination for the rest of the population. This audit will assess the current rates of uptake for the recommended additional vaccinations for Aboriginal adults under the care of a remote area health service in Western Australia as well as who gave the vaccinations to this group of patients.

Type 2 diabetic Aboriginal adult patients aged over 18 years identified as current patients who had a diagnosis of type two diabetes prior to 01/01/2017 to the local Remote Aboriginal Health service from 01/01/2017 to 31/12/2017 with health records extending back at least 2.5 years who have visited at least once in the calendar period. 50 patients were selected at random and had their electronic health record reviewed.

For the pneumococcal vaccination, 43/50 patients (86%) had received at least 1 dose of the 23vPPV. A further 17 patients are not yet due their second vaccination. Of the eligible patients 16/26 (61.5%) received both doses of 23vPPV within 10 years of each other. Of the first doses of 23vPPV given; Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) gave 10; 15 were given by the Registered Nurse (RN); 5 were given by the Doctor and 13 were undocumented. For the influenza vaccination, 14/50 patients (28%) received an influenza vaccination in the 12 months to 31/12/2017. 11/14 vaccinations were given by AHWs, the Doctor, Patient and unknown gave 1 vaccine each.

These results are promising for the Health service concerned after they recently implemented further training for their AHWs to give vaccinations. The rates in the first year of the program show promise and may provide a simple way to improve vaccination rates amongst Aboriginal communities in remote parts of Australia.


Dr Vishal Bulsara is dual qualified as both a Dentist and Medical Doctor with a strong interest in Head and Neck Surgery and Indigenous Health. He is an early career researcher currently undertaking a research Masters qualification with the University of Notre Dame Fremantle as well as working as a junior doctor for the South Metropolitan Health Service in Perth.

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