WRIGHT MP Scott Buchholz is urging families to make sure their children are immunised as local vaccination rates lag behind the national average.
The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register shows vaccination rates for infants aged 12 to 15 months sit at 84 per cent locally – 8 per cent below the national average of 92 per cent.
It comes as the March 18 deadline approaches for families to have their child’s immunisations on track or risk missing out on child care payments under the federal government’s No Jab No Pay policy.
Mr Buchholz urged parents to join the national push to have their children immunised against preventable diseases.
“Locally 84 per cent of our children have been immunised, but as one of the areas in with the lowest rates of vaccinations we must remain vigilant,” he said.
“After we announced this policy last year, the percentage of 12 to 15 month old fully-immunised children rose to 92.28 per cent by the end of 2015 from 90.69 per cent in 2014, which says a lot about the value of awareness and getting on board.
“This is great news for those children and our community as more parents do the right thing, but locally more than 15 per cent of children are still not immunised.”
He said the community must protect its youngest – and most vulnerable – members of society.
“As a government we want to increase the immunisation rate to at least 95 per cent to give Australia ‘herd immunity’ for diseases like measles, whooping cough and chicken pox.
“Babies younger than six months are at the greatest risk of severe whooping cough disease and death, and high vaccination rates help protect our most vulnerable, including young babies and those unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
“Parents in our electorate who fail to fully immunise their child according to the National Immunisation Program are putting their child and our community at risk of infectious diseases.”
Parents whose children are not vaccinated by March 18 or a later date if previously notified by Centrelink, and who do not have a valid medical exemption or are not on a catch-up schedule, will start incurring a debt for any child care payments they receive after that date. They will have to repay that debt.
Parents who do not plan to vaccinate their child can ask the Department of Human Services to stop their child care subsidies immediately to avoid incurring a debt.
For more information visit www.humanservices.gov.au/immunisation