Jab hesitancy puts health of kids at risk

David SalvaireSound Telegraph

Low immunisation rates in Rockingham and a recent measles scare has reignited calls from local politicians and medical professionals for parents to vaccinate their children.

Just 84 per cent of five-year-olds in Rockingham were fully vaccinated in the 2015-16 period, according to a report by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

That figure was well below the national average of 92.9 per cent.

Kwinana was also below the national average with 91.7 per cent, while Golden Bay had the highest number of vaccinated children in the State with 96.1 per cent.

Low immunisation levels were highlighted in Perth’s southern suburbs this month after a student returning from Italy was diagnosed with measles and attended Perth Waldorf School in Bibra Lake.

It is understood up to 200 unvaccinated students attended the school.

Brand MHR Madeleine King said it was important for parents to be aware of the dangers of not vaccinating children because misinformation about immunisations and vaccines was rife.

“The majority of parents want to do what is best for their children,” Ms King said. “But persuasive, and misleading, arguments on the internet can unfortunately push some people to make irresponsible decisions and put not only their own children’s health at risk but that of the wider community too.

“The AMA has said 8 per cent of the population are vaccine-hesitant and this is very concerning.”

Two of the 15 measles cases recorded in WA this year were detected at Rockingham General Hospital.

Early measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed about three days later by a red blotchy rash.

The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles can be especially severe in infants and people with poor immune systems.

Director of Communicable Diseases Paul Armstrong said about nine out of 10 susceptible persons in close contact with a measles patient would develop the illness.

“The illness is spread by tiny droplets, released when infected people cough and sneeze,” Dr Armstrong said.

“Anyone who thinks they are infected should call ahead and mention their possible contact with measles so they can be isolated when they arrive at the GP surgery or emergency department, to prevent infecting other patients and staff.

“A person is considered immune to measles if they have previously received two doses of a measles vaccine or were born before 1966.”

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