While Australia’s vaccination rate for five years olds is one of the best in the world—at 94 per cent—it still needs to increase.
World Immunisation Week (April 24 – 30) is an opportunity for us to refocus our attention on ensuring all Australian children are safe from preventable diseases by having them immunised.
This year’s theme “Protected Together, #VaccinesWork” encourages everyone to make a greater effort to increase immunisation coverage to protect our kids.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP said the evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines is unavoidable.
“Since the introduction of vaccination for children in Australia in 1932, deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have fallen by 99 per cent—despite a threefold increase in Australia’s population over that period,” Minister Hunt said.
“We know immunisation saves lives—worldwide. It has been estimated that immunisation programs prevent approximately three million deaths each year.”
There are more than 19 million unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in the world, putting them at serious risk of potentially fatal diseases like polio, measles, whooping cough and the mumps.
Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM said the national immunisation rate for five-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (96.2 per cent) is higher than for all Australian children aged five (94.0 per cent).
“This is great news but we can’t rest until all five-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases,” Minister Wyatt said.
“Since 2007, vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander five-year- olds have increased by more than 18 per cent, while there was 10 per cent increase among all five-year-olds. These percentages are encouraging but there is still more to be done.
“While we immediately associate vaccination with our children, vaccines are especially important for senior Australians.
“The elderly are more likely to get diseases like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles—and can have complications that may lead to long-term illness, hospitalisation and even death.
“That is why the Coalition Government offers free vaccines under the National Immunisation Program for people aged 65 years and over against the flu, shingles and pneumonia.”
Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie acknowledged that World Immunisation Week highlights that immunisation saves millions of lives.
“Immunisation is widely recognised as one of the world’s most successful and cost effective health interventions,” Minister McKenzie said.
“It protects more than just individuals from serious diseases. When you get immunised, you protect yourself as well as helping to protect the whole community.
“When enough people in the community are immunised, it is harder for diseases to spread. This helps to protect people who are at more risk of getting the disease— including people in the community who are not able to be vaccinated.
“This means that even those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated will not catch the disease. We call this ‘community immunity’ and it saves lives.”
World Vaccination Week is a timely reminder of the need to remain ever vigilant about vaccine-preventable diseases and increasing Australia’s immunisation rates.
The week coincides with the availability of the 2018 National Immunisation Program seasonal influenza vaccines in Australia. People are encouraged to do their part by booking in for their flu jab.
You can find further information about immunisation in Australia on the Department of Health’s website.