Victoria nears childhood herd immunity target

Victoria has hit a figure just shy of 95% of five year olds fully immunised, which the Andrews State Government says supports its vaccination policies

The Victorian Government has announced it is boosting its Immunity for Community campaign.

Latest figures from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register show that 94.9% of Victorian children in the age cohort are fully vaccinated, above the 94% average across Australia.

The “herd immunity” target to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as measles is 95%.

Victoria’s coverage has increased from 93% in 2016 and from 94.5% over the past three months.

The Government says the figures are despite the spread of “false evidence” about vaccination.

“There is no debate around immunisation. The science is crystal clear: vaccinations are safe and save lives,” says Health Minister Jill Hennessy.

“Our record vaccination rate is proof parents are not buying into the lies of irresponsible and dishonest rogues who tout misinformation about immunisation.

“They are a menace and put the health and safety of children at risk.”

The Government says that the Immunity for Community campaign highlights the benefits of immunisation and the risks of not immunising.

While parents finalise enrolments for child care and preschool in 2018, the boosted campaign will remind them to vaccinate their children and encourage those with questions or concerns to get advice from a qualified health professional.

“Our No Jab No Play laws are working – and they are here to stay,” says Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos.

“There is no excuse for not immunising your child. Immunising your child not only protects you and your family, but other children in the community.”

The Victorian Government also cited the success of its VaxOnTime app, which has been downloaded 30,000 times and helps parents keep on top of their child’s immunisation schedule.

It says about 20% of parents simply forget when their child is due for a vaccination.

Gardasil 9, an improved version of the HPV vaccine, has just been added to the National Immunisation Program for all 12 to 13-year-old boys, and girls in years seven or eight.

The new vaccine protects against nine different strains of HPV (up from four) and only two doses of the new vaccine are needed, down from three.

Meanwhile, reports of vaccine preventable disease have been in the news of late, with South Eastern Sydney Local Health District calling last week for awareness of the symptoms of measles following four cases notified in the last month.

Two infected people visited a series of locations including the Kirrawee Pharmacy on 4 October, as well as trains, a food court, café, pool and Sutherland Hospital Emergency Department.

In Western Australia, several people have been diagnosed with meningococcal disease, including the B, W and Y strains.

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