Sydney’s western suburbs have among the lowest rates of immunisation in Australia, while affluent suburbs including Bondi, Mosman and Mona Vale are still failing to meet the government target.
Although the immunisation rate in most parts of Australia improved between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, the latest data from the National Health Performance Authority shows that in areas of trenchant anti-vaccination sentiment there has been little change in four years.
Overall, the immunisation rate among one-year-olds rose from 90.4 per cent to 91.3 per cent.
Immunisation rates have improved but still fail to meet national target.
Immunisation rates have improved but still fail to meet national target. Photo: Joe Armao
Brunswick Heads on the NSW North Coast had the lowest rate of immunisation in Australia, with just 73.3 per cent of one-year-olds immunised, followed by Parramatta and Harris Park, where the immunisation rate was 75.8 and Katoomba, Leura and Medlow Bath, with 76.8 per cent.
National Health Performance Authority Diane Watson said the risk posed by low immunisation rates was a local phenomenon and people in areas with poor levels of immunity should be concerned.
“We’re starting to see improvements in immunisation rates in some communities but we still see communities where immunisation rates are not high enough to ensure that disease can’t spread,” Dr Watson said.
“For one-year-olds, rates can be as high as 98 per cent but can be as low as in the 70s and those would be the communities in which children are the most vulnerable.”
Across Australia, 1200 postcodes did not meet the national immunisation target for 95 per cent of children to be immunised.
The authority has introduced an interactive tool to allow parents to check the immunisation rate in their suburb.
One of the areas with the greatest improvements in its immunisation rate was central and eastern Sydney, where the proportion of children immunised in the postcode encompassing Bondi Junction and Queens Park rose from 82.9 per cent to 93.3 per cent.
But similar improvements in Bondi and Randwick were not enough to lift the rate above 90 per cent.
Dulwich Hill had one of the highest immunisation rates in Australia, with 97.3 per cent of one-year-olds immunised.
National Centre of Immunisation Research director Peter McIntyre said pockets of anti-vaccination attitudes in places such as the North Coast of NSW and south-east Queensland had kept immunisation rates low in those places and this had barely changed.
But low rates in metropolitan areas were usually due to people moving to Australia from overseas or into the city from interstate and their immunisation data not being transferred.
Programs such as a drive to boost immunisation in Indigenous communities and the federal government’s “no jab no play” policy had improved the immunisation rate overall, Professor McIntyre said.
“For all the hoo-ha about objectors, about three times as many people have not got all the vaccines they’re supposed to, and in almost all these cases it’s problems with access to services, large families, single parent families, all the things that make it difficult to get to a clinic.”
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