We compared estimates of the age-specific population immunity to measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella zoster viruses in Victorian school children obtained by a national sero-survey, using a convenience sample of residual sera from diagnostic laboratories throughout Australia, with those from a three-stage random cluster survey. When grouped according to school age (primary or secondary school) there was no significant difference in the estimates of immunity to measles, mumps, hepatitis B or varicella. Compared with the convenience sample, the random cluster survey estimated higher immunity to rubella in samples from both primary (98.7% versus 93.6%, P = 0.002) and secondary school students (98.4% versus 93.2%, P = 0.03). Despite some limitations, this study suggests that the collection of a convenience sample of sera from diagnostic laboratories is an appropriate sampling strategy to provide population immunity data that will inform Australia's current and future immunisation policies.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.