Campaign targets parents with vaccine facts

Dana McCaffery, baby
Dana McCaffery died of whooping cough in 2009. Image: Facebook

The Turnbull Government has launched a “Get the Facts about Immunisation” campaign to encourage childhood vaccination

In launching the campaign, Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the Government knows parents want evidence based information to support decision-making about childhood vaccinations.

The campaign is aimed at making it easier for them to “get the facts”, he said.

“Immunisation rates in Australia are already high, with over 93% of five-year-old children fully vaccinated. But there are some areas where the immunisation rate is too low.

“It is these areas of low coverage which pose risks to the community, especially to people who can’t be vaccinated, like newborns and those with medical reasons.

“The new $5.5 million campaign will reach parents in these areas through child care services and online communication channels, such as social media.”

He cited research which demonstrates that people who are fully informed about the benefits of vaccination are more likely to vaccinate.

He highlighted that the facts available on the site include:

    • Vaccines strengthen your child’s immune system.
    • All childhood diseases we vaccinate against can cause serious illness, including death.
    • All vaccines available in Australia have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness and are continually monitored.
    • Immunisation is a safe and effective way of giving protection against diseases such as whooping cough and measles.

He also thanked the Hughes and McCaffery families, who shared their heartbreaking stories as part of the campaign.

“Riley Hughes and Dana McCaffery were both only a month old when they died of a vaccine-preventable disease,” Mr Hunt said.

“They were both too young to be vaccinated, so like all other newborns, relied on the rest of the community being vaccinated to offer protection.”

He also thanked Immunologist and 2006 Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer, for his involvement in the campaign, saying his input is one of its great strengths.

“Ensuring parents are fully informed about immunisation is vital in ensuring we increase the rates of immunisation across Australia in the 0 to 5 age group,” Professor Frazer AC said.

“Australia has a strong immunisation record which has seen a reduction in disease in this country, however we still see cases of disease outbreaks, particularly in areas of low immunisation coverage, so it’s important immunisation rates are as high as possible.

“Vaccines work to protect children against being infected by these diseases. A parent will never know when their child may come into contact with someone who has got one of these infections, so the best way to protect children from these diseases, is to make sure they’re fully immunised.”

The RACGP welcomed the launch, with president Bastien Seidel pointing out that information about vaccination found online is “often more confusing than helpful”.

“Vaccinations are a medical success story,” he said. “They allow children to grow up healthily and enable communities to thrive.

“Since the introduction of immunisation in Australia and overseas in the nineteen thirties, millions of lives have been saved as deaths for vaccine-preventable diseases have fallen by 99%.”

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