23 January 2017

Immunise your children before 2017 school year starts

The Department of Health is encouraging parents to check that their children’s immunisations are up to date as they prepare for the start of the 2017 school year.

WA Health’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate Medical Coordinator Professor Paul Effler said immunisation was the best way to protect children against serious infections.

“While parents are busy ticking off their back-to-school check list, it is timely to remind them to ensure their children are protected from 16 vaccine preventable diseases,” Professor Effler said.

“Ensuring your child’s immunisations are up to date will keep them protected and help stop the spread of these diseases in the community.”

The childhood immunisation program is free through the National Immunisation Program. Parents should check with their health provider whether a consultation fee is applied, but many providers bulk bill for childhood immunisations.

Parents should also be aware that children must be fully vaccinated for parents to be eligible to receive family assistance payments – through the No Jab No Pay policy.

“In Western Australia, 91.5 per cent of pre-school aged children are fully immunised. However, at least 95 per cent of children must be fully immunised to effectively prevent outbreaks of highly infectious diseases like measles,” Professor Effler said.

“Known as herd immunity, the 95 per cent immunisation rate is important to protect others in our community who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, including pregnant women, children with immune disorders and some cancer patients, for whom these diseases can be extremely serious.

“It is therefore extremely concerning that some suburbs and regions of Western Australia (external site) continue to have immunisation rates up to 10 per cent lower than the 95 per cent target.

“This endangers vulnerable community members because they don’t benefit from the same level of indirect protection against highly infectious diseases like chickenpox or measles – when compared to areas with higher rates of childhood immunisation.”

Professor Effler said that the classroom environment, where children were in close proximity to each other, also meant that diseases could spread quickly between children who were not fully vaccinated.

“Parents who are unsure about their child’s immunisation history can visit the Medicare Australia website to get a record of past immunisations,” he said.

To find out where to get immunised, or for more information on immunisation programs and starting school visit healthywa.wa.gov.au/immunisation (external site).

ENDS

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