Checking the school entry immunisation status of children
Western Australia's Department of Health has developed an Immunisation Strategic Plan in an effort to turn around the State's low immunisation rates.
The plan is seeking to strengthen support and collaboration from agencies across health as well as other relevant parties including WA's Department of Education.
Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) reports show that WA's lowest immunisation rate is in its four year olds so the Department's efforts to lift the State's immunisation rate will focus on this age group.
The new strategy will try to renew parents' commitment to immunisation at the point of school entry. It will encourage parents to check their child's immunisation records and catch up on any outstanding vaccinations.
The Department has been negotiating with the WA Department of Education to inculcate a process by which school registrars check the immunisation record of each student on enrolment. Both the Health and Education departments have agreed to use the ACIR history statement as a universal record that all schools can accept as proof of immunisation history. To assist in this process, the Department of Health has developed an information brochure Starting School that the Department of Education will include in school enrolment packs for the 2013/2014 school year. The brochure impresses on parents the importance of sharing immunisation records with their child's school and shows them how to access their child's ACIR immunisation record. Department of Health community school nurses will work with primary school staff to gather students' immunisation status and assist in interpreting technical anomalies.
WA can improve its four year old immunisation rates only if all immunisation service providers support this strategic priority by:
- encouraging parents to immunise their children on time
- providing balanced information to parents who express concern about immunisation
- doing regular recalls of all four year olds on their books with overdue vaccinations
- checking a child's immunisation status in ACIR when they present for other health issues
- providing opportunistic immunisation to four year olds when they present for other health issues (if appropriate)
- entering the immunisation encounter into ACIR to ensure that the child's immunisation status is up to date.
There is significant evidence that vaccination programs within Australia and around the world are working. Data show overwhelmingly that children benefit from vaccination.In Australia, children rarely die from vaccine-preventable diseases but it is important that health professionals continue to promote more timely completion of vaccination in our four year olds.