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Letter to the Editor

Editor, – Thank you for your editorial on prescribing for refugees (Aust Prescr 2013;36:146-7). Another area of prescription writing can be for immunisations for those in the 'visiting family and friends' category. Many of our refugees who have now been here for years are returning home with their Australian-born children. Keeping these kids on schedule for their government-funded vaccines is important as they may return to their parents' country of origin at a young age.

Adequate preparation with travel immunisations such as hepatitis A and typhoid, and in some cases malaria chemoprophylaxis, is important. The parents themselves may or may not be immune to hepatitis A and many of those returning home as adults are at risk for typhoid. Keeping up to date with new information relating to travel health is fast becoming an area of specialty.

Lani Ramsey
Nurse practitioner
Travel-Bug Vaccination Clinic


Author's comments

Mitchell Smith, one of the authors of the editorial, comments:

Thank you for raising the additional issue of travel health in people with a refugee background. Although by definition refugees are often prevented from returning home even to visit, some are able to do so many years later. Certainly standard immunisations are important, although not a prescribing issue as such. There is good evidence that people returning to a resource-poor country to visit friends and relatives are at increased risk of infectious diseases in particular. Appropriate travel advice and broader community education is therefore important.

Lani Ramsey

Nurse practitioner, Travel-Bug Vaccination Clinic, Adelaide

Mitchell Smith

Director, NSW Refugee Health Service