Target communities: Ukrainian migrants
Vaccine(s): Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and Human Papilomavirus (HPV)
Description of the target community
Since early 2014 there has been a rapid increase in migration from Ukraine to Poland, with a dramatic influx of Ukrainian citizens following the eruption of the conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine. Ukrainian migrants are a mobile community, with low immunization rates, moving from a country with negative attitudes towards immunization and high measles incidence. They can be described as incomplete migrants and typically live in crowded, multi-occupancy flats with close cross-generations contacts. Having these large clusters of migrants living together with a high proportion of unvaccinated people, can lead to outbreaks of measles. Recent measles outbreaks related to Ukrainian migrants have been reported in Poland. These outbreaks are evidence that vaccination programmes do not reach all. As long as the political and economic situation in Ukraine remains unstable, the issues related to alarmingly low immunisation uptake among this vulnerable community and its possible consequences regarding public health will need to be addressed.
Health system barriers:
Research has demonstrated that Ukrainian migrants in Poland tend to have negative beliefs about the quality and safety of measles vaccine, which lead parents and their children to refuse or delay vaccination. The ability of the Polish health system to address the vaccination beliefs of the Ukraine community in Poland depends largely on the knowledge, skills, motivation and deployment of the healthcare professionals responsible for organizing and delivering the vaccination services. Firstly, Ukrainian migrants in Poland are not familiar with, or aware of HPV vaccinations in the context of cervical cancer prevention. Secondly, they experience challenges in accessing credible online vaccination information in their native language. Thirdly, self-paid HPV vaccines are not of interest for people living in Ukraine, as well as for the Ukrainian migrants to Poland, due to the high cost. A significant number of adult Ukrainian migrants in Poland have not completed mandatory vaccinations in childhood, but in some cases, they do possess false immunization certificates.