THE NSW North Coast continues to have the worst immunisation rates in Australia and the Byron Shire has the worst on the North Coast, with nearly a third of all 5-year-olds not fully immunised in parts of it, a new report says.
The National Health Performance Authority's second report on childhood immunisation rates has showed that, generally, more children are being fully immunised.
The Northern Rivers' coastal strip was found to have the lowest rates of immunisation for children aged 1, 2, and 5, while the region's hinterland areas - possibly buoyed by high immunisation rates in the Richmond Valley and Kyogle local government areas - had the fourth-lowest rate of immunisation for 1-year-olds and the sixth-lowest rate for 2-year-olds.
Broken down to post-codes, the Northern Rivers' poor result appears focused on the Byron Shire, with the 2481 postcode - taking in the Bay, Ewingsdale, Suffolk Park, and Broken Head - recording an immunisation rate of only 66.7% among 5-year-old children. The 2483 postcode, taking in north Byron Shire communities such as Brunswick Heads and Ocean Shores, had the second lowest rate, with only 70.2% fully immunised.
One of the highest immunisation rates on the Northern Rivers was in the Casino postcode area, which boasts a 94.7% rate of fully immunised five-year-old children.
Across the NSW North Coast, the report found an average 88% of 5-year-olds were fully immunised, compared to a national average of 91.5% in that age group. It also found the region continued to have the lowest rate of immunisation for 1-year-olds, with 86.1% immunised, compared to a national average of 91.2%.
National Health Performance Authority chief executive, Dr Diane Watson, said the report provided health professionals with information to help them target efforts to areas that need it most.
She said childhood immunisation "significantly decreased" the possibility for infection and spread of diseases in the community, such as whooping cough and measles.
"Through local-level reporting we can clearly identify areas in Australia with low rates of childhood immunisation," Dr Watson said.
"This information can be camouflaged by national, state and territory level reporting."
LOCAL IMMUNISATION RATES
- Byron Bay (postcode 2481): 66.7% fully immunised
- Ocean Shores/Brunswick Heads (postcode 2483) 70.2% fully immunised
- Ballina (postcode 2478) 86.8% fully immunised
- Lismore (postcode 2480) 86.9% fully immunised
- Casino (postcode 2470) 94.7% fully immunised
- Kyogle (postcode 2474) 90% fully immunised
(Source: National Health Authority analysis of Department of Human Services, Australian Childhood Immunisation Register Statistics, 2012-13)