Thank Wooldridge for high vaccination rates

Michael Moore

The future of immunisation looks bright in Australia, says PHAA CEO and president of the World Federation of Public Health Associations Michael Moore, but a “whole of life” vaccination register is needed.

Speaking at today’s 15th National Immunisation Conference in Brisbane, Moore said that Australians needed to thank the then Minister for Health Dr Michael Wooldridge for his actions in 1997, which resulted in the high immunisation rates we boast today.

“Since the introduction of the ACIR [Australian Childhood Immunisation Register], immunisation rates have climbed from 75% in 1997 (12 months of age) to 91.4% in 2010,” Moore says.

“By 2015 the National Health Performance Authority reported rates for the same group from the lowest Primary Health Network area at 87.7% to the highest at 93.6%.

“Dr Wooldridge, a minister in the Howard Government, provided a pinnacle turning point in Australia’s approach to immunisation, preventing disease and saving lives.

“Immunisation statistics have grown dramatically and we’re still going.”

He says the Conference illustrates this, with presentations on new vaccines, new methods and new technologies to increase immunisation rates for infants and adults. It includes a session on pharmacist vaccination by Dr Lisa Nissen.

“From having Hib vaccine as the only new vaccine introduced into the national schedule for almost 20 years and having just experienced a large measles epidemic with thousands of cases when we started, Australia has now qualified for the World Health Organization certification of elimination of endemic measles, and introduced a number of new vaccines,” Moore told the conference.

“These include Hepatitis B, HPV, rotavirus, varicella, meningococcal C and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, funded influenza and pneumococcal vaccines for all persons over 65 years and a number of specific programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register is well established, and great improvements have been made in vaccine safety monitoring and, vaccines have been recommended for new population groups, such as pregnant women.

“In 2016 and beyond, we need the pieces of the jigsaw to fit together effectively and efficiently more than ever, as new vaccines arrive and communication experiences ‘digital disruption’.

“PHAA conferences have been calling for a ‘whole of life’ immunisation register for over a decade, and in this 20th year of the ACIR, the Adult Immunisation Register is set to emerge, spurred on by inclusion of zoster vaccine for elderly adults in the National Immunisation Program.”

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