WA Immunisation Strategy looks to lift vaccination rates in western suburbs

THE Health Department will make it a priority to raise western suburbs child vaccination rates.

WA Health Minister John Day launched the five-year WA Immunisation Strategy recently and said there seemed to be a paradox where in some cases, those more affluent thought it less necessary to vaccinate.

In 2014-15 the national immunisation rate in one-year-olds was 91.3 per cent, but 88.5 per cent in Cottesloe and Peppermint Grove.

The suburbs’ rates were 78.6 per cent for two-year-olds (nationally 89.2 per cent) and 85.9 per cent for five-year-olds (92.2 per cent).

It was 91.3 per cent for one-year-olds, 88.8 per cent for two-year-olds and 89.9 per cent for five-year-olds in Balga that year.

Similar figures lower than the national average were recorded in Subiaco and City Beach, despite more than 98 per cent of parents supporting child immunisation in WA.

“Often the reasons given not to vaccinate are simple ones, such as not having enough time or resources to get to the doctor, or not being reminded it’s due,” Department of Health chief medical officer Tarun Weeramanthri said.

Whether vaccination rates of up to 10 per cent lower than the national average posed to threat to wider society may not be measureable, he said, but the strategy’s goal of 95 per cent would greatly reduce any risk.

The strategy promotes 16 free vaccines, more midwife training, new mothers getting SMS reminders of vaccination dates, and parents encouraged to ask if sons and daughters were at risk from unvaccinated children of friends and parents.

North Perth parent Rhiannon Apkarian had her daughter Takota (6 weeks) immunised for the first time last week.

“My message to other mums is to get your baby immunised, even if you are late,” she said. “See your child health nurse and catch up, because we do live in the lucky country where we can have vaccinations and prevent serious diseases.”