Childhood immunisation rates must improve: experts

syringe vaccine

More needs to be done to encourage parents to immunise their kids to stem the impact of preventable diseases, a CSU expert says.

The comments come in the wake of a third report on childhood immunisation rates from the National Performance Authority.

Professor Linda Shields from CSU’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health called for greater awareness raising among young parents about the diseases immunisation prevents.

The report revealed that immunisation coverage has improved in some areas but there are a number of other areas where rates remain too low to prevent the spread of diseases.

Prof Shields says, “childhood immunisation is one the best public health initiatives Australia has ever seen and it should be mandatory for parents to immunise their children”.

“Over the past 20 years we have seen immunisation rates rise dramatically and the incidences of childhood diseases like diphtheria, polio, measles and tuberculosis decrease significantly, and this has been fantastic,” she says.

“The paradox, however is that by virtually eradicating some of the most horrible, life-threatening illnesses there is now a whole generation or more of parents who have no first or even second-hand experience of these illnesses. And subsequently those parents find it difficult to understand the consequences of not immunising their children.”

“You really do have to be of a certain age to remember that it’s not long ago that far too many children were dying and suffering terribly from diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, measles, chicken pox, pertussis (whooping cough) and the complications related to them”.

“Given this lack of first-hand experience and community awareness it’s difficult to blame some young parents who are unwilling to have their children immunised,” Prof Shields says.

“Education is the answer and the Government and health authorities need to do more to help young parents really understand the potentially devastating consequences of these preventable diseases and promote the great work done through immunisation to minimise them.

“It would be great to see popular culture such as TV shows explore the issue and give this current generation of parents a taste of what it is like to have a child who can’t breathe because of diphtheria or who suffers severe brain damage as a result of a case of measles that could have been prevented through vaccination.”

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  1. Judith

    The problem is that the vaccines are becoming ineffective. This compromises the herd immunity.

    The risks of side effects is very real but the effect is short lived.

    One recent study published in Pediatrics concluded, “Tdap protection wanes within 2 to 4 years. Lack of long-term protection after vaccination is likely contributing to increases in pertussis among adolescents.”


    The New York Times reports on a new study finding that the greatest risk to infants of being infected with the bacteria that causes whooping cough, or pertussis, now comes from their older siblings. The Times explains that this is “probably a result of waning immunity among children and adolescents who had received the DTaP vaccine.”

    The FDA summarized in a press release, their findings suggested that “although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants.”

    The New York Times, incidentally, did at the time report the findings of the FDA study that “people recently vaccinated may be continuing to spread the infection without getting sick.” “When you’re newly vaccinated you are an asymptomatic carrier, which is good for you, but not for the population.”

    a report was published by the Financial Post titled Vaccines Cannot Prevent Measles Outbreaks. Its author, Lawrence Solomon, reported on a paper written by Professor of Medicine and founder and leader of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, Professor Gregory A. Poland, titled The Re-emergence of Measles in Developed Countries, which was published two years ago.

    “Measles vaccine has a failure rate measured in a variety of studies at 2 –10%, and modeling studies suggest that herd immunity to measles requires approximately 95% or better of the population to be immune.”

    • Graceds

      I was surprised the article mentioned tuberculosis.
      In the States it’s not recommended for general use:

      “BCG Recommendations
      In the United States, BCG should be considered for only very select people who meet specific criteria and in consultation with a TB expert. Health care providers who are considering BCG vaccination for their patients are encouraged to discuss this intervention with the TB control program in their area.

      BCG vaccination should only be considered for children who have a negative TB skin test and who are continually exposed, and cannot be separated from adults who are untreated or ineffectively treated for TB disease, and the child cannot be given long-term primary preventive treatment for TB infection; or have TB disease caused by strains resistant to isoniazid and rifampin.”
      CDC dot gov

  2. Judith

    Sadly no debate on immunisation is allowed in Australia. Very rarely are comments accepted or allowed. Mainstream media only presents one side of the debate. This has lead to a very angry and frustrated group of people with no voice. If debate was allowed this would help to diffuse the anger and despair that so many parents feel because of the punitive measures being adopted by the Australian Government.

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