Fears that immunisation rates would drop due to lockdowns and the pandemic have been allayed as vaccination rates hit record high.
Fears that immunisation rates would drop due to lockdowns and the pandemic have been allayed as vaccination rates hit record high.

Anti-vaxxers can’t fool smart parents

Australia's vaccination rates have hit yet another record high, with new figures ­revealing five-years-olds are 94.9 per cent fully vaccinated, just 0.1 per cent off the gold standard of 95 per cent.

A 95 per cent vaccination rate provides what is called herd immunity, whereby diseases like measles cannot get a foothold in the community. Anything less than 90 per cent represents a danger to herd immunity.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the September quarter figures were heartening in the face of earlier reports that children were missing out on vaccinations due the pandemic and lockdowns.

Vaccination rates at the beginning of the year, before the pandemic, were 94.78 per cent.

"Australia is one of the great vaccination nations of the world. The fact we are now approaching 95 per cent vaccination rate for our five-year-olds' childhood immunisation rates, that's been an incredible outcome," Mr Hunt said.

 

New figures ­revealing five-years-olds are 94.9 per cent fully vaccinated in Australia.
New figures ­revealing five-years-olds are 94.9 per cent fully vaccinated in Australia.

 

In 2011, vaccination rates were at 89 per cent for five-year-olds.

"Programs such as No Jab, No Play and No Jab, No Pay have played a critical role in that," Mr Hunt said.

Although the pandemic has seen online anti-vaccination activity intensify, with people like celebrity chef Pete Evans repeatedly sharing anti-vax messages, Mr Hunt said they were failing in their quest to undermine the science.

"Because of the pandemic it has been more noise but less effect because the hard evidence is through June and September each of those quarters has seen successively higher, record immunisation rates for our five-year-olds," he said.

"In June we went to 94.8 per cent for five-year-olds, a record - for Indigenous kids 96.9 per cent, a record - and then in September again, we have new figures that show record immunisation rates, up 0.1 per cent to 94.9 per cent.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt praised Australians for embracing vaccination as a critical lifesaving step. Picture: Sean Davey.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt praised Australians for embracing vaccination as a critical lifesaving step. Picture: Sean Davey.

"We are nearly at the magic 95 per cent but we will keep going to get there and, for Indigenous, it's 97 per cent.

"So not only have we maintained our immunisation rates but through the height of the pandemic we have increased our immunisation rates, which has surprised me that with all the restrictions on movement, we have seen the overarching population in Australia has embraced vaccination as a critical lifesaving step."

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October found catch-up programs for incompletely vaccinated children were higher after No Jab, No Pay laws came in, linking immunisation to family payments.

In NSW, the Richmond coastal region that takes in the Byron Shire has the lowest jab rate at 83.85 per cent of five-year-olds fully vaccinated. Sydney's eastern suburbs also had low rates at 87.97 per cent.

Originally published as Anti-vaxxers can't fool smart parents



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