Aim: In Australia in 2003 a two-tiered immunisation schedule was introduced consisting of funded (National Immunisation Program) and non-funded but recommended vaccines (Best Practice Schedule), including varicella vaccine. The aim of this study was to examine immunisation practice when a vaccine is recommended but not funded by Government. Methods: A survey was sent to 600 randomly selected general practitioners (GPs) in South Australia between June and August 2005, prior to provision of Federal funding for varicella vaccine. Results: Although varicella was considered an important disease to prevent by 89% of GPs, only 25% of GPs always discussed the non-funded immunisation with parents at the time of a routine immunisation visit. Female GPs were more likely to discuss immunisation with recommended, non-funded vaccines than male GPs. Those who were supportive of varicella prevention were more likely to discuss immunisation with the non-funded vaccine. GPs who always provided information about the disease were more likely to have parents accept their advice about varicella vaccine (62.7%) than those who never provided information (40%). GPs reported parental refusal of varicella vaccine was due to the cost and perception that varicella is a mild disease. Conclusions: The results of this study showed variability in prescribing practices for a non-funded vaccine. Recommending a vaccine without provision of funding may lead to 'mixed messages' for immunisation providers and parents with resultant low coverage. Funding a vaccine is likely to reduce variability in provision of the vaccine and improve coverage in the community.
- General paediatrics
- Infectious disease