The rise in the anti-vaccination trend is having real effects on the safety of Australian children, it has been revealed by a recently released report. Figures indicate that there are still a large number of areas where targets for immunisation were not being met.
The National Health Performance Authority report, showed that for children aged one and two, none of the primary health network areas across the country met designated targets. In the five-year-old groups, only two areas met targets.
Targets for immunisation have been set by the Australian Chief Medical Officer along with all of the state and territory chief health officers. Those targets intend for 95% of all children in Australia to be immunised, a number that makes herd immunity a safe bet in the population.
However, it seems that between low rates of immunisation in Aboriginal communities and the rising misconceptions about the ‘safety’ of approved vaccines, that those targets are far from guaranteed.
Over the last two financial years, immunisation rates have improved in a number of areas for one-year-olds, including outback South Australia, Surfer’s Paradise and Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Immunisation rates for Aboriginal one-year-olds also saw an increase, or hold, in all of the 49 areas where data is collected. By comparison, the area with the absolute lowest rate for the immunisation of one-year-olds is New South Wales’ North Coast.
A Word From The Experts
Dr. Diane Watson, the National Health Performance Authority chief executive officer said that she hoped new information relating to the data would make it easier for health professionals to better work towards the immunisation targets and strategies in their areas. At the moment, Dr. Watson made it clear that in some areas, the rate was far from high enough to do the job it was intended for.
“There’s too many communities in Australia that still have child immunisation rates that are not high enough to ensure that diseases don’t spread,” Dr. Watson said.
“The more children that are immunised, the less chance of a disease or outbreak.”
Tony Bartone, the Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association echoed many of Dr. Watson’s points, noting that the data was a worry and very disappointing, but indicative of the many reasons that parents are now opposed to immunising their children.
“That includes misinformation, concern about misreported side effects that have been shown to be incorrect, concern about a more natural way of dealing with or preventing disease, all of which is clearly putting the health of our youngest at risk,” Mr Bartone said.
Herd Immunity Isn’t A Lie
Parents against immunising their children often justify their actions with the idea that their children are their responsibility, and therefore as a parent they can make choices for them that are in line with their own lifestyle choices. Now this is usually true, but when it comes to vaccination, a parent’s choice not to vaccinate their child has a ripple effect. Why?
It’s called herd immunity, and although some anti-vaxxers might discount it as a vaccination conspiracy, it’s absolutely true.
The basic concept of herd immunity is this: the group (or herd) can avoid exposure to a disease by making sure the large majority of the individuals are immune. A large rate of immunity stops chains of transmission, where people keep passing it along to other people. In this way, the entire group is protected, including those who cannot be vaccinated for any number of reasons.
Now, when immunisation rates are low, more people have a chance to get sick, which means more people have a chance to pass along with illness. For different illnesses, there are differing rates of population immunity required to avoid outbreaks, which is why 95% is not really enough.
In Australia, and around the world, health departments should be aiming for a 100% immunisation rate. This means almost everyone in our population has taken steps to protect not only themselves, but also those around them from dangerous and potentially deadly diseases that often leave the weak, young and old sick and even dead. So when you think about immunising your child, don’t just look at the effect that it will have on them, think about your friends, neighbours, school mates and community members who also benefit.