Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia, 2005 to 2007

5.5 Vaccine preventable disease notification rates compared with other industrialised countries

Page last updated: 24 December 2010

The comparison of notification rates of five selected vaccine preventable diseases in Australia with Canada, the USA, New Zealand, England and Wales are shown in Table 5.3. Comparison should be cautious, as there were outbreaks of diseases at different times across the different countries, impacting particularly on some diseases, such as measles and mumps, across any one year. In addition, the tabulated rates are not age-standardised.

Table 5.3: Most recent* published notification rates per 100,000 population for frequently notified vaccine preventable diseases, by country of residence

Disease
Australia New Zealand30 USA31 Canada32 England & Wales33,34
Haemophilus influenzae type b disease
0.1
0.4
0.9
0.2
0.1
Measles
0.1
0.6
<0.05
<0.05
6.8
Mumps
2.8
1.7
0.3
0.1
13.3
Rubella
0.2
0.3
<0.05
<0.05
2.0
Pertussis
25.4
7.9
3.5
8.8
2.0

* Australia 2007; New Zealand 2007; USA 2007; Canada 2004; England and Wales 2007 (calculated from published number of notifications and population).

† Notification rates are not age-standardised.

Rates of invasive Hib disease were comparably low in all countries, a reflection of the striking success of programs with this vaccine. The measles notification rate in Australia has been decreasing in the past decade from 1.7 per 100,000 in 1998 to <1 per 100,000 in 2007. Even though the crude incidence rate of measles is lower in North America than in Australia, there is evidence that Australia has satisfied multiple criteria that justify the formal declaration of elimination of endemic transmission of measles.22 The mumps notification rate in the USA was also lower than the rates in New Zealand, Australia, and England and Wales. In contrast, the estimated incidences of measles and mumps were both high for England and Wales in comparison to the rest of the selected countries. This is consistent with the known outbreaks in that country, affecting susceptible individuals who were either unimmunised or partly immunised, especially older teenagers and young adults who, in the UK, received the measles–rubella vaccine, not MMR vaccine, in the school-based catch-up program conducted in the mid 1990s.23-26 MMR vaccination coverage has been lower in the UK than in the other countries mentioned above. The proportion of children aged 2–4 years who were susceptible to measles was estimated to have increased to 27% in 2004/2005,27 and the incidence of measles in England and Wales for the period 2005–2008 was 35.0 per 100,000 population (95% CI 34.4–35.6) for children <15 years of age and 103.6 per 100,000 population (95% CI 99.7–107.4) for those <1 year of age.28 Rubella notification rates were low in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. For pertussis, notification rates in Australia are high compared with all other countries. Although comparisons are difficult because of differences in case definition and in availability and use of laboratory tests (such as serology and PCR tests), the available data suggest that Australia has a uniquely high pertussis disease burden, as reflected in hospitalisation rates and seroepidemiologic studies.29

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