Number of fully-immunized Australian kids hits record high

The national immunization rate in Australia has hit a record high as the number of fully-immunized kids reached near 95 percent.

New data for the March quarter in 2019 revealed the immunization rates for all five-year-old children in the country increased to 94.78 percent from the previous record of 94.67 percent in December 2018.

Pediatrician performing routine vaccination. Image Credit: adriaticfoto / Shutterstock
Pediatrician performing routine vaccination. Image Credit: adriaticfoto / Shutterstock

The figure for indigenous children aged five years old was even higher than the national rate, with 96.66 percent of children who received a full course of the vaccines. Australia has surpassed the global vaccination rate of 85 percent, which shows promise in the country’s aim to protect the children from deadly diseases.

“The latest figures show that the vast majority of parents are hearing the message about the benefits of vaccinations and I am delighted that our public health campaigns and our immunization programs are protecting all Australians,” Greg Hunt, Health Minister of Australia said in a statement.

He added that vaccines help save and protect lives, hence, promoting the benefits of immunization should always be implemented.

The immunization rate is continuously increasing among younger children, aged one and two years old. Subsequently, the rates in Tasmania and Victoria reached above the national rate, with 95.6 percent while Western Australia (WA) received the lowest rate of 93.4 percent.

‘No Jab, No Play’ Policy

Over the past years, the country has seen various incidences of disease spread and outbreaks due to children not receiving vaccines for certain diseases. The federal and state governments introduced a policy, dubbed as the “no jab, no play” law, wherein children should be full-immunized with the proof before they are accepted and enrolled in childcare or kindergarten.

Most constituents are in favor of the policy, with 85 percent agreeing. The survey, which was conducted by the University of Western Australia (UW) in July, shows the positive response and support of residents on the policy to protect public welfare.

"In contrast to similar studies in the United States and the United Kingdom, we found that support for both vaccination and mandate is very high, with no significant opposition from any political subgroup," Katie Attwell from the UW said in a press release. "This is important because it shows that in Australia, mandatory vaccination plays out as good politics for all parties,” she added.

The Australian Government Immunization Policy

The immunization schedules and policies in Australia varies depending on the state. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) recommends that babies and children get their immunization from a general practitioner (GP) or a health service clinic.

The immunization schedule among children below five years old begins at birth, as they receive the hepatitis B. At 2 months old, the infant will receive a 6-in-1 vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTPa), poliomyelitis, haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and hepatitis B. Babies will also receive vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal.

By 4 months of age, the infant receives the second dose of the vaccines given at 2 months old. The third dose of the 6-in-1 vaccine is given at 6 months, while the third dose of pneumococcal is given at 12 months, along with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the meningococcal vaccine.

At 18 months old, the child needs to have a booster jab of the MMR vaccine, the DTPa vaccine, and the Hib vaccine. At 4 years old, a booster shot of the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis vaccine is again given.

Why is there a need to immunize children?

Children are part of the vulnerable population, as they have a higher risk of contracting diseases. Some diseases, such as diphtheria, polio, hepatitis B, and pneumonia are becoming very rare in various countries due to the protection vaccines give.

Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their children from serious childhood diseases before they turn 2 years old. For proven disease protection, vaccinate your children according to the state’s immunization schedule.

The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are important to keep children safe and protected. For instance, measles outbreaks occurred in 2018, and the viral disease is highly contagious. For unvaccinated children, the disease can lead to serious and life-threatening complications such as encephalitis or brain swelling, pneumonia, and even death.

Other diseases such as pertussis, polio, diphtheria, rotavirus, and hepatitis B, among others, may have serious effects on infants and children. Protecting them with vaccines is important to prevent serious complications.

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She recently completed a Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and is now working as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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