COVID-19 vaccine coverage among immigrants and refugees in Alberta: A population-based cross-sectional study

Studies have shown that immigrants have lower vaccination rates than the Canadian-born population. We sought to assess COVID-19 vaccine coverage and factors associated with uptake among foreign-born immigrants relative to the non-immigrant population in Alberta, Canada.

In this cross-sectional study, we analysed population-based linked administrative health data from Alberta to examine vaccine coverage for 3 931 698 Albertans, of which 731 217 were immigrants. We calculated COVID-19 vaccination coverage as the proportion of eligible Albertans with a record of receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of November 29, 2021. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the association of vaccine coverage with migration status (immigrants: four categories based on time since migration and non-immigrants) adjusting for socio-demographic variables.

Overall, COVID-19 vaccination coverage was 78.2% (95% confidence interval (CI) = 78.1%-78.3%) among immigrants and 76.0% (95% CI = 75.9%-76.0%) among non-immigrants. Coverage among immigrants differed by continent of origin, with North America, Oceania, and Europe having the lowest coverage. Although vaccine coverage was relatively uniform across neighbourhood income quintiles for immigrants, immigrants living in rural areas had lower vaccine coverage compared to non-immigrants living in rural areas. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed a significant interaction between age category and migration status. While immigrants below 50 years of age generally had significantly higher vaccine coverage compared to non-immigrants, there was some variation based on time since migration. Immigrants above 50 years of age showed significantly lower coverage compared to non-immigrants of the same age.

Public health interventions should focus on older immigrants, immigrants living in rural areas, and immigrants from specific continental backgrounds in order to improve COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

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MacDonald SE, Paudel YR, Du C

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