New definition for fully vaccinated child
In November 2011 the Australian Government announced the Strengthening Immunisation for Children (external site) initiative. This initiative included:
- ending the Maternity Immunisation Allowance (MIA) from 1 July 2012
- introducing an immunisation assessment for Family Tax Benefit part A Supplement (12 mth, 24 mth, and 60 mth assessments ) from 1 July 2012
- introducing the combined measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMR-V) vaccine at 18 months of age from 1 July 2013
- the addition of pneumococcal, meningococcal C and varicella vaccines to the definition of being fully immunised from 1 July 2013.
Immunisation service providers should already have received information relating to the introduction of an immunisation assessment for Family Tax Benefit part A Supplement (12 mth, 24 mth, and 60 mth assessments) from 1 July 2012. This information is available at the Parliament of Australia website (external site)
The new definition of fully immunised (for the purpose of family payments) will affect the coverage rates as the affected birth cohort of children born after 1 July 2012 flows through the different age assessment points.
Childhood immunisation coverage rates in WA are currently around 89% to 90%. However, effective disease control requires 95% coverage.
While inclusion of the additional vaccines will be beneficial to assessing the overall immune protection achieved in the 0–5 year age cohort in the long term, immunisation rates in WA will initially decline owing to parents not getting their children vaccinated at the recommended times e.g. 1 year and 18 months for vaccines such as meningococcal C and varicella.
To prevent this decline in our immunisation rates, immunisation service providers are encouraged to actively promote the uptake of all vaccines on the WA schedule at the recommended time. This should ensure our rates do not fall below 90% and that our children and the broader community are protected.