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Driving delivery and uptake of catch-up vaccination among adolescent and adult migrants in UK general practice: a mixed methods pilot study

Crawshaw, A. F., Goldsmith, L. P. ORCID: 0000-0002-6934-1925, Deal, A. , Carter, J., Knights, F., Seedat, F., Lau, K., Hayward, S. E., Yong, J., Fyle, D., Aspray, N., Iwami, M., Ciftci, Y., Wurie, F., Majeed, A., Forster, A. S. & Hargreaves, S. (2024). Driving delivery and uptake of catch-up vaccination among adolescent and adult migrants in UK general practice: a mixed methods pilot study. BMC Medicine, 22(1), article number 186. doi: 10.1186/s12916-024-03378-z


Migrants in the UK and Europe face vulnerability to vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) due to missed childhood vaccines and doses and marginalisation from health systems. Ensuring migrants receive catch-up vaccinations, including MMR, Td/IPV, MenACWY, and HPV, is essential to align them with UK and European vaccination schedules and ultimately reduce morbidity and mortality. However, recent evidence highlights poor awareness and implementation of catch-up vaccination guidelines by UK primary care staff, requiring novel approaches to strengthen the primary care pathway.

The ‘Vacc on Track’ study (May 2021–September 2022) aimed to measure under-vaccination rates among migrants in UK primary care and establish new referral pathways for catch-up vaccination. Participants included migrants aged 16 or older, born outside of Western Europe, North America, Australia, or New Zealand, in two London boroughs. Quantitative data on vaccination history, referral, uptake, and sociodemographic factors were collected, with practice nurses prompted to deliver catch-up vaccinations following UK guidelines. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with staff and migrants explored views on delivering catch-up vaccination, including barriers, facilitators, and opportunities. Data were analysed using STATA12 and NVivo 12.

Results from 57 migrants presenting to study sites from 18 countries (mean age 41 [SD 7.2] years; 62% female; mean 11.3 [SD 9.1] years in UK) over a minimum of 6 months of follow-up revealed significant catch-up vaccination needs, particularly for MMR (49 [86%] required catch-up vaccination) and Td/IPV (50 [88%]). Fifty-three (93%) participants were referred for any catch-up vaccination, but completion of courses was low (6 [12%] for Td/IPV and 33 [64%] for MMR), suggesting individual and systemic barriers. Qualitative in-depth interviews (n = 39) with adult migrants highlighted the lack of systems currently in place in the UK to offer catch-up vaccination to migrants on arrival and the need for health-care provider skills and knowledge of catch-up vaccination to be improved. Focus group discussions and interviews with practice staff (n = 32) identified limited appointment/follow-up time, staff knowledge gaps, inadequate engagement routes, and low incentivisation as challenges that will need to be addressed. However, they underscored the potential of staff champions, trust-building mechanisms, and community-based approaches to strengthen catch-up vaccination uptake among migrants.

Given the significant catch-up vaccination needs of migrants in our sample, and the current barriers to driving uptake identified, our findings suggest it will be important to explore this public health issue further, potentially through a larger study or trial. Strengthening existing pathways, staff capacity and knowledge in primary care, alongside implementing new strategies centred on cultural competence and building trust with migrant communities will be important focus areas.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Vaccination, Catch-up vaccination, Primary care, Migrants, Transients and migrants, Health inequalities, Vaccine-preventable diseases, Immunisation, Health systems
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of VacconTrackBMCMedicine.pdf]
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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