AAP – A third of five-year-olds in the Byron Bay postcode are not up-to-date with their vaccinations, according to a new report by the National Health Performance Authority.
The controversial Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN), which has recently lost its charity status and been forced to change its name on the grounds of misrepresentation, is based in Byron Shire.
NSW has the most under-immunised youngsters, according to the authority. The seven postcodes with the lowest levels of immunisation are in all NSW, including Manly, The Rocks and Parramatta.
But Casuarina (NT), Beaumont (SA), South Yarra (Vic) and Noosa Heads (Qld) are not far behind, according to National Health Performance Authority data, released on Thursday.
The postcode with the most immunised children is 3730 in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, with 99 per cent coverage for five year olds.
National immunisation coverage for children aged one, two and five increased slightly to 91.5 per cent in 2012/13, according to the report.
This means 75,002 were not fully immunised.
Of these, 15,000 were registered conscientious objectors.
The coverage for indigenous five-year-olds jumped from 87.3 per cent to 92.1 per cent.
But the report showed teething problems with the new human papillomavirus (HPV) program to prevent cervical cancer, with three in 10 girls turning 15 not fully immunised.
Great South Coast in Victoria had the highest rate of immunisation out of the 61 Medicare local areas, with 95 per cent of five year olds fully immunised and 92 per cent success for the HPV vaccine.
People in areas of low immunisation should be worried, said Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton.
‘The critical coverage for herd immunity is 92 per cent for measles, mumps and rubella and we target 95 per cent,’ Dr Hambleton said.
‘We immunise our children to protect them and our neighbours’ children. And we expect our neighbours to immunise their children to protect our children.’
But there are 60,000 children whose parents just didn’t get around to it.
He was delighted about the improvement for indigenous people.
‘It’s fantastic. The community-controlled health services have gone out of their way to focus on immunisation.’ he said.
He was also full of praise for the top performers.
‘Great South Coast needs a gold star. My goodness, what are they doing?’
What they did was reach out to the community and build trust, said Glenda Stanislaw, CEO of the Great South Coast Medicare Local, who plans to treat her team to a glass of champagne.
‘We have put a lot of energy into aboriginal immunisation, specifically at secondary school level for the HPV vaccine,’ Ms Stanislaw said.
‘For the younger children, we really did have to talk to parents and explain how important vaccinations are.’
Data for 333 local areas and 1500 postcodes is available at www.myhealthycommunities.gov.