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Hills a vaccination blackspot

A PUPPET show promoting immunisation is one of 10 recommendations endorsed by the Shire of Kalamunda to boost vaccination rates which are amongst the worst in Australia.

It complements last week’s announcement by Health Minister John Day that Mundaring and Kalamunda will be targeted in a plan to boost lagging immunisation rates.

Mr Day launched the WA Immunisation Strategy 2016-2020 that identified the education of parents-to-be as a key to lifting childhood immunisation.

“We need to help parents do better for their children,” he said.

“In the metropolitan area Mundaring, Cottesloe and Claremont, have reported some of the lowest vaccination rates for children under five years of age.

“Data indicates that one to two per cent of families object to vaccination, this shows most parents are supportive of immunisation, but may need assistance to overcome barriers to immunisation.

“This strategy aims to help close that gap, including introducing SMS reminders for parents, home visits for high-risk children and improved school vaccination record-keeping.”

The WA Health Department’s statewide notifiable diseases weekly report has so far this year recorded 670 cases of whooping cough and 432 cases of mumps, well up on 2014 where eight cases were recorded.

There have been 262 cases of chickenpox, up from last year’s total of 225 cases.

There has been one reported case of measles in WA. Mr Day said as part of the strategy WA Health will launch an immunisation course for midwives to improve education in this health provider group, who he said are a trusted source of information for pregnant women.

“Much of the Perth metropolitan area falls below the current national average of 91.3 per cent for fully vaccinated two-year-olds,” he said.

“This strategy will be complemented by legislation to allow nurses and other trained health professionals to vaccinate, simplifying and increasing access to immunisation.

“There are still too many vaccine-preventable diseases occurring in WA, with consequences including increased doctor visits, absence from work and school, hospitalisation, permanent disability and premature death.”

High Wycombe child health nurse Sara Lohmeyer said short of clean water, immunisation saved more lives around the world than anything else.

“I am an immunisation officer and am particularly passionate about parents being correctly educated regarding immunisations,” she said.

“A plan to raise immunisation education and rates will always be a welcomed initiative but it would also need to have a foundation that is factual.”

The Shire of Kalamunda’s Immunisation Report found vaccine preventable diseases in the shire were nearly one-and-a-half times higher than the metropolitan average.

“The vaccination rate for five year old children in the postcode 6076 is 82.8 per cent,” the report said.

“This is within the 20 poorest performing localities in the country.”

The shire will survey parents to identify if current low levels of vaccination in the five-year-old age group are a result of complacency or vaccine hesitancy.

It will also investigate if low levels of vaccination in the one-year-old age group in Wattle Grove is linked to language or cultural barriers within the local immigrant population.


About Sarah Brookes

Sarah is an award-winning journalist (2016 WA Media Awards - Best Three Suburban Newspaper Stories) who has covered our Mundaring and Kalamunda editions since 2011. She went to Eastern Hills Senior High School before studying chemistry and biology at university. Staring down a microscope two years into her degree she realised a future in science wasn’t for her – journalism was. Sarah lived in Europe before re-settling in Darlington, where her family has lived for three generations, with her two children. She has worked for various government agencies and Media Monitors. Sarah is a media junkie who loves talkback radio and devours the weekend papers.

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