State Minister for Health targets boosting immunisation rates in pockets of the Northern Rivers.
State Minister for Health targets boosting immunisation rates in pockets of the Northern Rivers. DAVID CROSLING

Byron Bay vax rates 'beyond concerning', minister says

NORTHERN Rivers vaccination rates has been labelled 'beyond concerning' by state Minister for Health ahead of a new campaign to boost immunisation rates statewide.

Brad Hazzard said a million dollar Save the Date to Vaccinate campaign started yesterday and is honing in on North Coast parents who are failing to safeguard their children by vaccinating.

"Northern NSW and in particular the north coast have the lowest vaccination rates in Australia. It is beyond concerning. The Government wants to get levels closer to the statewide average,” Mr Hazzard said.

"In some parts of northern NSW, the rate is as low as six or seven in every 10 children. Byron Bay is of huge concern. It may be beautiful but its kids are amongst the least protected in NSW,” he said.

Health authorities warn deaths still occur in Australia from diseases such as whooping cough and diphtheria, which can be prevented by routine vaccination.

Director of Public Health, NSW North Coast, Paul Corben, said incorrect information is driving unnecessary wariness of immunisation around the Northern Rivers.

"We face a range of challenges often not experienced in other states with many people here perceiving vaccines are unnatural, as opposed to life-saving,” Mr Corben said.

"This campaign will see a range of targeted local strategies including increased community engagement and more nurses and midwives certified to vaccinate children.”

The NSW Government has spent more any state and territory on vaccination campaigns with the government investing about $5.5 million on the initiatives since 2013.

The recommended, free vaccines protect against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases.

Young people aged 17 and 18 years will also be eligible for the meningococcal ACWY vaccine from May 1.

These include:

- Hepatitis B

- Diphtheria

- Tetanus

- Pertussis

- Haemophilus influenzae type B

- Polio

- Pneumococcal

- Rotavirus

-Meningococcal C



- German measles

- Chicken pox

-Human papillomavirus (HPV)

- Influenza

- Shingles.