The Sunday Telegraph and The Daily Telegraph are today launching a campaign to stop the rise in the number of children succumbing to preventable diseases because parents are failing to have them fully immunised.
Although only 1.5 per cent of parents are “vaccine refusers” or conscientious objectors, many parents are forgetful, leaving areas of NSW with vaccination rates below 85 per cent – despite the inarguable scientific proof that the vaccination program has saved thousands of lives and eradicated diseases that crippled children just a generation ago, including polio.
Despite effective vaccines, Australia has been unable to eradicate diseases such as whooping cough because some parents do not immunise, leaving small babies and children with cancer and other immune-compromising conditions vulnerable.
Nine local areas were recently identified by the National Health Performance Authority as being “at risk” of outbreaks of preventable and potentially deadly diseases such as measles and chicken pox, with vaccination rates as low as, or below, 85 per cent. A high rate of immunisation is defined as 95 per cent.
The eastern suburbs, inner Sydney, Manly and the north shore now record the lowest rates of immunisation in the city with an estimated 77,000 children not fully immunised.
The Australian Medical Association believes tougher measures – potentially including bans for non-immunised children – should be introduced to make life harder for “free-riding” parents who refuse or forget to vaccinate.
“We need to lift the barriers, we need people to make an active decision to immunise because we have a responsibility to our children to protect them, and a responsibility to the community to contribute to herd immunity,” Dr Steve Hambleton said.