Perth measles scare: WA Government flags changes to school vaccination checks

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MORE: Measles case at Bibra Lake school sparks health alert

HEALTH Minister Roger Cook has revealed the State Government is trying to make it easier for schools to check the vaccination records of early childhood students.

The revelation comes a week after the Department of Health issued an alert about a student at Bibra Lake’s Perth Waldorf School possibly infecting other unvaccinated students with measles.

“The measles scare at Waldorf School demonstrates why it’s important the State Government introduce new measures to improve overall vaccination coverage and better protect our kids from vaccine preventable diseases,” Mr Cook said.

“The Health Department is developing regulations that will strengthen universal immunisation record checks for children enrolled in early education both in the public and private system.”

However, the Perth Waldorf School student infected with measles was in secondary school and would not come under any new regulations.

Following the scare, the Department of Health offered an on-site vaccination clinic to the school.

A Department spokeswoman said the offer remained open, despite the school declining to respond.

The school has been forced to exclude all exposed, unvaccinated students until there is no longer a risk of them developing measles.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said today the School Education Act 1999 allowed all schools in WA to ask for the vaccination status of a child at enrolment.

But it is not mandatory for non-government schools to request this information.

The spokeswoman said if requested however, then it must be provided by the applicant.

“The Department of Education is working with the Department of Health on strengthening these procedures,” she said.

She confirmed there were no requirements in WA for any school to refuse applications for enrolment on the basis of immunisation or lack of immunisation.

A statement from Catholic Education WA said schools requested the vaccination status or immunisation record of a child during the enrolment process, in accordance with the Act.

“Parents of students without up-to-date immunisations and students with no immunisation records are advised of the presence of the disease, and children who have not been immunised may be required not to attend school in the interests of health and safety,” it said.

Virginia Moller from Steiner Education Australia, which includes Perth Waldorf School, said vaccination documentation was collected when children enrolled.

“All schools, including Steiner schools, are required to adhere to mandatory Department of Health guidelines as relevant in each State,” she said.

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