Geneva Health Forum Archive

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Immunization status of young people attending a youth clinic in Geneva, Switzerland

Author(s) Anne Meynard1, Emilien Jeannot2, Lydia Markham3, Claire-Anne Lazarevic 4, Bernard Cerutti 5, Francoise Narring6
Affiliation(s) 1Department of Pediatrics, Geneca University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland, 2Institute of social and preventive medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Institute of social and preventive medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, 3Private general practice, Private general practice and school health service, Nyon, Switzerland, 4School Health Service , Department of Public instruction Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, 5Faculty of medicine University of Geneva, Faculty of medicine University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland, 6Department of Pediatrics, University hospitals Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Country - ies of focus Switzerland
Relevant to the conference tracks Advocacy and Communication
Summary This study aims to describe immunization status at first visit in a collective of young people coming to an academic youth clinic. Results confirm our hypothesis that many young immigrants have had adequate childhood vaccination especially for tetanus but  are missing Hepatitis B and HPV. Collaboration between nurses in the youth clinic and school health services allows, not only detection of under-vaccinated youth, but quick and effective vaccination .
Background Adolescents are under-vaccinated and have limited access to effective care or preventive services in many regions of the world. Data on immunization status of adolescents or young adults in Switzerland are scarce and little is known about barriers to adequate coverage. Swiss vaccination coverage data shows that children of foreign origin are usually better immunized, but that this difference is lost in adolescence, where the most important factor of adequate vaccination is the presence of a school health vaccination program.
Objectives The objective is to describe the immunization status at first visit and differences in immunization status according to duration of stay in Switzerland and nationality of young people coming to a mulitdisicplinary youth clinic in Geneva
Methodology Immunization status at first visit (medical file, immunization booklets or school health database) was collected retrospectively between January 2010 and June 2011 in all patients coming for a first visit at Geneva University hospital’s multidisicplinary youth clinic. The main outcomes were Tetanus antibody titers one month after a booster of tetanus containing regimen and immunization status at first visit and the comparing of rates between young people of Swiss or foreign origin and for foreigners according to duration of stay in Switzerland.
Results 89% of patients tested for tetanus antibodies had values above 1000 U/l indicating adequate childhood immunization with 29% above 10’000 U/l putting them at risk of hyperimmunization if given usual adult catch up regimens (3 dosis). On the contrary Hepatitis B serology was often negative among the same population in our sample. Finding written information about immunization is significantely higher in youth born in Switzerland regardless of sex and nationality for all vaccines studied (tetanus, measles, hepatitis B and HPV) but is inferior to Swiss vaccination coverage data. Collection of information was highly facilitated by collaboration between academic youth clinic and school health services.
Conclusion In the absence of data, many young people immunized against tetanus or measles might in fact already be well immunized for childhood vaccinations. Effective collaboration between school-health services, primary health care facilities and youth clinics is highly effective in improving adolescent vaccine coverage especially with the help of public heath policies. School health services are usually very well informed about vaccination strategies in countries of immigration and the WHO database can also help to adapt recommendations to migratory flows.  However, they might miss young people at higher risk of being under or over immunized for example those with no booklet, absent from school on the day of immunization campaign, or with no permanent address. In Switzerland, parental consent is required for Hepatitis B or HPV immunization for young people under 16 years of age.Individually adapted catch-up immunization plans for adolescents and young adults regardless of origin or gender can avoid unnecessary and unsafe vaccination, and bring attention to barriers to adolescent vaccination as well as other adolescent health issues. Individual counseling allows targeted screening for silent infectious diseases (STI’s, Hepatitis, Chagas disease or common parasitic infections) but should mainly focus on assessment of protective and risk factors for healthy development of young people.