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The Centers for Disease Control in the United States have stated that studies to determine factors associated with failure to receive the first recommended dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis are required. We examined an infant cohort to identify family and infant characteristics predictive of prompt first immunisation, to document changes in prompt first immunisation rates over time and to identify reasons for immunisation delay. The study sample consisted of one-fifth of live births in Tasmania at risk of sudden infant death syndrome. From 1 January 1988 to 31 December 1994, families of 8011 infants (83 per cent of eligible infants) participated in a telephone interview when the infants were a median postnatal age of 11 weeks and 3 days. Prompt immunisation was defined as the report by parents of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination before a postnatal age of 10 weeks. The proportion of cohort infants promptly immunised increased (P < 0.0001) over time from 1988 to 1994. Prompt immunisation was associated with various characteristics of the infant and family. The proportion of infants promptly immunised decreased as birth order increased and as the interpregnancy interval between the index child and his or her immediately elder sibling decreased. After exclusion of infants not promptly immunised because of illness, birth order and interbirth interval remained significant predictors of prompt immunisation, suggesting that these factors are acting to increase immunisation delay through pathways unrelated to their potential effect on infant illness rates.


Journal article


Aust N Z J Public Health

Publication Date





489 - 494


Appointments and Schedules, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Vaccine, Health Behavior, Humans, Infant, Logistic Models, Odds Ratio, Prospective Studies, Sudden Infant Death, Tasmania