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20 May 2014

Regions take jab in the right direction

Children in regional Western Australia are not just beating their city cousins when it comes to getting immunised they are also ahead of the pack nationally.

An article in the May issue of Communicable Disease Control Directorate journal Disease WAtch reveals that a concerted push by public health units in the bush to lift childhood immunisation rates has paid off, with the percentage of fully immunised children in regional WA now surpassing the national average.

The article attributes the success to a variety of strategies employed by the regional units, including monthly follow ups of every family with a child overdue for immunisation and greater flexibility around immunisation provision including after-school clinics and immunisation in the home.

Despite the regions' success, immunisation rates in the Perth metropolitan area remain about 2 per cent below the national average so public health efforts will focus on emulating the regional results.

The report says that with 81 per cent of overdue children in the metropolitan area having received their most recent vaccination from a general practitioner, follow-up by general practices will be essential to lifting metropolitan immunisation rates.

The May issue of Disease WAtch also takes a look at how regional health teams are working to reduce rates of sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses in Aboriginal communities and sheds light on the link between a recent spate of measles cases in Western Australia and an outbreak of the disease in the Philippines.

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