Immunization coverage of children in the child welfare system: A systematic review protocol

Children may be placed in the care of the child welfare system when they require additional supports or intervention to ensure their safety and security. Transitions in living arrangements (eg, home to foster care and return to home) and other difficult circumstances for these children may result in interruptions in routine preventive healthcare, such as childhood immunisations. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to determine whether immunisation coverage is a problem among children in the child welfare system and identify any known supports and/or barriers to vaccine uptake in this population.

This systematic review will encompass published and unpublished primary research studies that assess (A) immunisation coverage of children in the child welfare system, (B) how this coverage compares to the general population and/or children not in the child welfare system, and (C) supports and barriers affecting immunisation status of these children. Vaccines in the recommended childhood immunisation schedule for each study setting will be considered. Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, SocINDEX and ERIC will be comprehensively searched. We will also search ProQuest dissertations and theses, the Conference Proceedings Citation Index for Science and Social Science & Humanities, and a sample of relevant provincial, national and international websites. References of included studies will be manually searched for relevant studies. English language primary studies from 2000 to current focused on immunisations of children (age 0–17 years) in the child welfare system, in a high-income country, will be included. A narrative analysis of key findings from included studies will be performed and presented.

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Hermann J, Featherstone R, Russell M, MacDonald SE

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