No Jab, No Play hits home but region’s vaccine rates still low
VACCINATION rates on the Northern Rivers are improving with the introduction of No Jab, No Play government policy, despite a recently released report showing the North Coast has the country’s lowest rates of childhood vaccination.
The National Health Performance Authority’s healthy communities report shows only 89.2% of five-year-olds have been immunised on the North Coast, compared with 95.6% in Murrumbidgee, which had the highest rates of vaccination.
That figure plummets to just 46.7% in the Mullumbimby postcode, 61.1% in Byron Bay and 67.2% in Ocean Shores for 2014-15.
But North Coast GP Dr Sue Page said she recently contacted a number of GPs across the Northern Rivers to see what their vaccination rates had been like since the Federal Government’s No Jab, No Play policy came into effect at the start of the year.
“Every practice that I rang said they were experiencing a significant increase in the number of people coming through and requesting catch-up vaccinations,” she said.
“The government has said children under the age of 10 will have their catch-up vaccinations funded for free (and) children who are over 10 will have their catch up vaccinations for free for 12 months.”
The policy withholds childcare and family tax benefits from parents who chose not to immunise their children, with medical grounds being the only exemption.
The increased rates of vaccination come as a long-term study of more than 95,000 children in the US finds no link between autism and vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, even among high-risk children.
The result supports modern theories about autism being linked to genetic abnormalities, with children who had siblings with autism at least three times more likely to develop the disorder.
The study, led by Dr Anjali Jain, went on to examine the statistical relationship between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations, but found no correlation.
“I think from a medical point of view, we’ve be reassured for a long time that there has been no association shown to exist between measles, mumps and rubella and autism,” Dr Page said.