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A cross-sectional study of susceptibility to vaccine-preventable diseases among prison entrants in New South Wales

The custodial environment poses challenges for infectious disease management.1 With close contact between inmates and high population turnover, infectious diseases can spread rapidly. Prison outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases including mumps,2 varicella3,4 and hepatitis B5,6 have been reported.

Health care services in New South Wales prisons are provided by Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, a statutory health corporation under the Ministry of Health. In August 2010, a measles outbreak was detected in prisons on the NSW North Coast. After this outbreak was contained, it was determined that more information was needed about susceptibility to vaccine-preventable diseases among adults in custody, to inform vaccination policies and clinical practices. At present, there is no policy on vaccination of prisoners against varicella, measles, mumps or rubella in NSW prisons. It is policy that all inmates be offered hepatitis B vaccination,7 but it is unclear what…