Low Immunisation Figures Puts Communities At Risk
21 January 2010 at 4:13 pm
Rapidly declining immunisation rates in Australia are putting communities at risk of pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and swine flu, especially as the school year is about to get under way, says Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) Chair Dr Emil Djakic.
Dr Djakic sys immunisation rates for four year olds have reduced to about 83 percent – a seven year low, and they are likely to continue to drop.
Australia aims to have an immunisation rate of 90 percent or above, a good coverage rate by international standards.
The vaccinations protect children from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, mumps and rubella.
But Dr Djakic says the government’s move to end the immunisation incentive scheme has led to a dramatic decline in immunisation rates, with no likely recovery.
He says his organisation warned the government when they decided to axe the immunisation incentive scheme that the rates of immunisation would decrease, and it appears that the recent figures prove the point.
The scheme funded General Practitioners to set up recall and reminder systems in their practices to encourage parents to bring their four year old in for their shots.
Dr Djakic says the risk to the community is high, a pertussis epidemic on the east coast of the country last year led to the death of one child and severe illness for many more.
Children not vaccinated also pose a severe threat of passing on the illness to pregnant women, older or obese people and Indigenous Australians, with potentially tragic consequences.
He says these illnesses are often much worse for adults, and adults with a chronic condition are at a high risk of serious complications.
Influenza H1N1 (swine flu) is still a concern for Australia, with the return to school likely to see a resurgence in those young people affected, unless vaccinated.
Dr Djakic strongly encouraged all parents of children starting school this year to have their four year old vaccination completed before school begins.