National Immunisation Program – rotavirus vaccine

Over the next four years, one million children born after 1 May 2007 will be offered free vaccine against rotavirus, which causes gastroenteritis.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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Why is this important?

  • Rotavirus gastroenteritis causes annual epidemics of severe diarrhoea in young children in Australia and accounts for between 25 to 50 per cent of all hospitalisations for diarrhoea. As well as the hospitalisations, 22,000 emergency department and 115,000 GP visits each year are associated with Rotavirus gastroenteritis.
  • An estimated 10,000 Australian children per year are hospitalised, and almost half of these children are under 12 months of age. Rotavirus spreads rapidly to family members, and through child care centres and hospitals, causing a high burden of disease to families and communities.

Who will benefit?

  • One million children born after 1 May 2007 will be offered the free vaccine over the next four years.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • The Government has committed $124.4 million over five years to implement this vaccination program.

What have we done in the past?

  • Overall Government spending on vaccine under the National Immunisation Program has increased from $13 million in 1996 to $283 million in 2006-07.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in childhood immunisation rates in recent years, with over 90 per cent of children at 12 months of age now fully immunised (up from 53 per cent in the late 1980s), with a corresponding drop in the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • This is an ongoing initiative.

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