Ballarat's immunisation rates remain steady

BALLARAT’S immunisation rates have remained about 92 per cent for the past five years.

State government figures released this week show 92.23 per cent of Ballarat children are fully vaccinated before they start school, compared to 92.3 per cent in 2009.

However, it is still slightly below the government’s new target of a Victoria-wide 95 per cent immunisation rate.

Around the region, Pyrenees Shire shares the state’s top rate of 100 per cent with Buloke, Central Goldfields, Loddon and Queenscliff shires, but Hepburn Shire has the third lowest in the state, with just 85.71 per cent, ahead of only Mansfield and inner-city Melbourne.

Ballarat City Council’s people and communities general manager Neville Ivey said the council provided about 53 per cent of the town’s immunisation services.

Mr Ivey said it was important children were immunised at the key ages and stages, adding the council would also vaccinate 4500 Ballarat secondary school students this year.

He said children must be fully immunised for their parents to access part of their Commonwealth family allowance.

“There is a strong educational push around it, backed by this federal government initiative,” Mr Ivey said.

He said the council was trying to break down any immunisation barriers through initiatives such as expanding the service to Saturday mornings for more family flexibility.

Health Minister David Davis said the state’s current immunisation rate was already a high 93 per cent.

“However, more needs to be done to protect our children from preventable diseases and that is why we are striving to lift immunisation coverage to 95 per cent in 2015,” Mr Davis said.

“Immunisations are free and they have been proven to be the best defence against illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Education Minister Martin Dixon said parents must legally provide an immunisation status certificate to their child’s school.

“Schools keep a copy of this certificate so in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, such as measles, unimmunised children are able to be identified and protected from risk of infection,” Mr Dixon said.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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