Dmitry Naumov

Anti-vaxxers risk health of pregnant women and children

PARENTS who aren't vaccinating their children and choosing to keep their anti-vaccination stance a secret are putting other children at risk, according to a new study.

Social science researchers at Perth's Edith Cowan University said 'anti-vaxxers' were putting the health of pregnant women and young children at risk.

Lead researcher Dr Bronwyn Harman told media it was important to understand the reasons parents were not vaccinating their children.

"It really does frighten me a lot if people coming into contact with those women and children aren't disclosing their status out of fear of being perceived as bad parents," she said.

Mullumbimby is often referred to as the town with Australia's lowest vaccination rate.

A 2015 National Health Performance Authority report found between 46 and 49 per cent of one, two, and five-year-old children in the 2482 Mullumbimby postcode were fully immunised.

Dr Harman said researchers found parents who chose not to vaccinate their children believed a healthy diet could protect their children just as well as herd immunity.

Manipulation by the Government was also another prominent reason parents chose not to vaccinate, Dr Harman said.

"These parents believe they are being lied to and believe they have done enough of their own research to believe vaccinating is risky, even though much of their research comes from unreliable sources on the internet," she said.

As children returned to school this week, Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley reminded parents their children must be vaccinated or they risk losing Government benefits.

From this year, to continue receiving family assistance payments from the Commonwealth (Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement), children and young people up to 20 years of age must be fully immunised, on a catch-up schedule, or have an approved medical exemption.

"Many might be surprised to learn Australia's vaccination rate, which averages 92 per cent, still sits under World Health Organisation recommendations of 95 per cent", Ms Ley said.

The National Immunisation Program provides free vaccines.