Immunisation rates in Nepean among highest in the country, according to report

Childhood immunisation rates in the Nepean Blue Mountains area are among the highest in the country, according to a government report.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released last month showed 94.2 per cent of one-year-olds, 91.3 per cent of two-year-olds and 94.7 per cent of five-year-olds in the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network (NBMPHN) were fully immunised, based on 2015/16 figures.

While the figures fell just short of the federal government’s aspirational 2014 target for 95 per cent, it did point to a very high immunisation rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

A total 97.5 per cent of five-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the region were fully immunised, ranking second nationally.

The area has had a steady increase in the immunisation rates for five-year-old children from 92.9 per cent in 2012/13, a statement from NBMPHN said.

However, the report also showed the Upper Blue Mountains fell well short of targets, with only 75.8 per cent of two-year-olds and 81.4 per cent of 5-year-olds vaccinated.

A fully immunised child means that they have received all of the scheduled vaccinations appropriate for their age, the health network stated.

For a five-year-old that meant a child has received four doses of diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccine, four doses of polio vaccine and two doses of measles.

“These figures are the result of a significant effort across the region by many agencies including the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, local GPs and community health staff to improve childhood immunisation rates in the region,” chief executive Lizz Reay said in a statement.

“We are all especially encouraged to be closing the gap on Aboriginal childhood immunsation. By the five year mark, we have significantly closed the gap on immunisation among the Aboriginal childhood community.

“Although the region is doing well, there are still areas where immunisation rates are potentially too low to prevent the outbreak of disease.

“NBMPHN’s immunisation team has played a vital role working with GPs and practice staff to ensure they are skilled in the software that helps them to better utilise the Australian Immunisation Register that enables them to ensure all parents stay up to date with their children's vaccinations.”