National approaches to the vaccination of recently arrived migrants in Europe

Added May 18, 2022

Citation: Ravensbergen SJ, Nellums LB, Hargreaves S, et al. National approaches to the vaccination of recently arrived migrants in Europe: A comparative policy analysis across 32 European countries. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2019;27:33-8.

Language: Abstract and full text available in EN.

Free to view: Yes.

Funding sources:  European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases through the ESCMID Study Group for Infections in Travellers and Migrants (ESGITM), UK National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, Imperial College Healthcare Charity and the Wellcome Trust.

What is this? Migrants tend to have a higher risk for vaccine-preventable diseases because some come from countries with endemic diseases or arrive without clear vaccination status or incomplete documentation. A comprehensive examination of policies related to vaccination of migrants might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for policies and guidelines for vaccination in migrants across Europe. They included publications on migrants that have been in the host country for less than 10 years, refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants. They did not restrict their searches by date or language of publication and did the search up to June 2017. They included 32 policy reviews.

What was found:  There was significant variation in policies and guidelines for vaccination in migrants across Europe. More than half the countries applied their national vaccination schedule for migrant vaccinations, as advocated by the World Health Organization and others.

Six of 32 countries had specific vaccination guidelines and comprehensive policies for migrants, two of which applied only to child migrants and four of which applied to both child and adult migrants.

Policies in ten countries were focused on priority vaccinations, with polio being the most commonly administered.

Migrant-specific guidelines for outbreak-specific and vaccine-preventable diseases were developed by some countries though there was substantial variation as to whether vaccinations were mandatory.

Five countries had circulated migrant-specific resources to relevant health-care providers.

Countries differed in their policies for when migrants presented to a health service with a missing or incomplete vaccination record. 18 countries recommended that individuals should be considered as unvaccinated when vaccination records were missing, and vaccines should be re-administered.

Implications: The authors of the review concluded that there was a need for robust research to clarify the optimum policies moving forward; what vaccines to offer and how it is determined; with more emphasis placed on ensuring migrant-specific guidance is disseminated to front-line healthcare professionals to improve vaccine delivery and uptake in diverse migration populations across the region.

Other considerations: The authors of the review discussed their findings in the context of place of residence.


This summary was prepared by Nhi Luu, edited by Sydney Johnson and finalized by Mike Clarke.

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence on the health of refugees and asylum seekers but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about the health of refugees and asylum seekers on the basis of this summary alone. The text can be shared and re-used without charge, citing Evidence Aid as the source and noting the date on which you took the text.