Child influenza vaccination rate low despite rise in uptake
The uptake of influenza vaccination in children younger than 7 years of age in Western Australia rose between 2012 and 2013.
Influenza vaccination uptake in children younger than 7 years of age was 23% higher than for the corresponding period in 2012 (year-to-date ending September).
The number of influenza cases in children younger than 7 years of age was 50% lower than for the corresponding period in 2012 (year-to-date ending September).
Figure 1 – Influenza vaccination children <7 years, 2012 and 2013
Figure 2 – Influenza cases in children <7 years, 2012 and 2013
Annual vaccination offers the best protection against influenza, with free influenza vaccinations available for all children in WA from 6 months to under 5 years of age. Although influenza vaccine coverage in children increased between 2012 and 2013, the overall vaccine coverage for this age group remains low. WA total population estimates for 2013 show year-to-date influenza vaccination coverage of 9.42% in the under-7 age group.
Influenza vaccination is strongly recommended every year for anyone 6 months of age or older with a medical condition that places them at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. However, the majority of childhood influenza-related hospitalisations and deaths occur among children without underlying medical conditions. All children over 6 months of age should, therefore, be offered the annual influenza vaccine.