The latest figures on child immunisation rates show there are a number of areas where rates remain too low to prevent the potential spread of diseases and most areas are falling short of the target for children to be fully immunised.
- Target for 95 per cent of children to be fully immunised
- None of the 31 primary health network areas across the country met the target
- More than 84,000 children aged one, two and five were not fully immunised last financial year
The Australian Chief Medical Officer and all state and territory chief health officers agreed to a target for 95 per cent of children to be fully immunised.
Figures released today show for one- and two-year-olds, none of the 31 primary health network areas across the country met the target, while only two areas did for five-year-olds.
Over the past two financial years, the most significant increase in immunisation rates for one-year-olds was seen in South Australia’s Outback North and East region, followed by Surfers Paradise in Queensland and Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Immunisation rates for one-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children significantly increased in seven out of 49 areas where data was available, and decreased in none.
The lowest immunisation rate for one-year-olds was recorded in the New South Wales North Coast.
Comparing the three age groups, the percentages of all children fully immunised were higher among five-year-olds than one and two-year-olds across most regions.
National Health Performance Authority chief executive officer Dr Diane Watson said the new information would allow health professionals to better target immunisation strategies in their local area.
“There’s too many communities in Australia that still have child immunisation rates that are not high enough to ensure that diseases don’t spread,” she said.
“We have seen some reductions in some communities across the country. For example, with regards to one year olds we’ve seen some reductions in child immunisation rates in Darling Downs in Queensland.
“We do see nice improvements across a lot of communities across the country.
“For example, really good improvements in outback north and east in country South Australia, we do see improvements in Surfers Paradise, eastern suburbs in Sydney and Central Highlands in Queensland.
“In terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, immunisation rates for one-year-olds, we do see a lot of improvements over time or communities that are keeping immunisation rates stable.
“The more children that are immunised, the less chance of a disease or outbreak.”
Australian Medical Association Victorian president Tony Bartone said the data was worrying and extremely disappointing and there were many reasons why the numbers were too low.
“That includes misinformation, concern about misreported side effects that have been shown to be incorrect, concern about a more natural way of dealing with or preventing disease, all of which is clearly putting the health of our youngest at risk,” Mt Bartone said.