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High vaccination levels

Friday, 9th June, 2017

The team at Busy Kids line up for a flu shot ... Stephanie McDonald (from left), Kristy Hurley, Mollie Clemens, Jenny French, Renee Robinson, Pauline Robins, Bev Miller, Erin Williams and Kristy Pinnuck. The team at Busy Kids line up for a flu shot ... Stephanie McDonald (from left), Kristy Hurley, Mollie Clemens, Jenny French, Renee Robinson, Pauline Robins, Bev Miller, Erin Williams and Kristy Pinnuck.

By Michael Murphy

Broken Hill is in the region with the highest vaccination rate for young children in Australia.

The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show the highest vaccination rate for five year olds by region was Western NSW with 96.1 per cent.

The North Coast had some of the lowest vaccination rates in NSW for one, two and five year olds in Australia with 89.8 per cent; 87.2 per cent and 90.3 per cent.

“Western NSW families should be proud; they are leading the nation in protecting the next generation from preventable diseases,” NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord said in a statement yesterday.

“Put simply, Western NSW mums and dads are absolute champions.”

A spokesperson for the Far West Local Health District says immunisation is one of their highest priorities and they hope the positive trend continues. 

“Immunisation is a priority area for the Local Health District and health protection team,” the spokesperson said. 

“There are times when vaccination coverage may plateau but the immunisation team work hard and collaborate with stakeholders to improve coverage.” 

Mr Secord has legislation before the NSW Parliament - the Public Health Amendment (Vaccination of Children Attending Childcare Facilities) Bill 2017 - set to be debated on June 22.

The legislation would remove “conscientious objector” provisions which have been used as a loophole by anti-vaxxers.

Child care service operators would face a maximum penalty of $5,500 for enrolling a child without a vaccination certificate or a certificate exempting them on medical grounds.

Local operator Jenny French, who owns Busy Kids Child Care Centre in Bagot Street, said she supported the move because it protected children, but it would not change the way her centre operates.

“We have had that policy in for a while ... all our children here are vaccinated,” Ms French said.

“We have worked out our own system to keep tabs on it, to remind us when the children are coming up for a new one,” she said.

“We send a note home to the parents, all families are pretty good, they want the immunisations as well.”

During her time at Busy Kids, Ms French has never seen a certificate exempting children on medical grounds.

Busy Kids has 90 families on its books and eight staff, and the staff are vaccinated, too. They all lined up last month at Priceline to receive a flu shot, courtesy of Ms French.

Member for Barwon, Nationals MP Kevin Humphries declined to say whether he would support Labor’s bill.

His local office said “the rates in the Barwon Electorate have been consistently well supported and Walt Secord’s release really is a lot about nothing”.

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