Growing fear of measles epidemic
HEALTH authorities are adamant immunisation is the best way to combat disease, but are battling low childhood vaccination rates across the Far North Coast.
NSW Health targets a minimum 90 per cent of vaccinated kids to create a “herd immunity” to disease in the community.
The Tweed Shire has a 89.1 measles, mumps, rubella vaccination rate for children aged 24 to 27 months, but that figure drops off to 83.3 per cent who return for the follow-up shot at five years of age.
Parents can become conscientious objectors against vaccination and not lose government benefits usually reserved for those who do.
While vaccination statistics are only available at shire level, Paul Corben, the North Coast Area director of Public Health said Tweed Valley had a high conscientious objector rate.
“Certainly in the area around Murwillumbah, we do see conscientious objector rates of about 25 per cent and that is extraordinarily high,” Mr Corben said.
Doctor Graeme Burger, spokesman for the Tweed Valley General Practice Network said some parents didn’t want their children vaccinated “for all sorts of strange reasons” and acknowledged it was their decision. However he is an advocate of the practice.
“Vaccination is one of the major advances in medicine and is a way of preventing diseases that is simple, easy and without complication,” he said.
There had been a few concerns raised with vaccination in the past few decades, including fears it could lead to autism, but Dr Burger said they had been totally debunked.
Dr Burger urged people to vaccinate their children and continue with the recommended vaccination schedule.
“Vaccination is the single most effective thing we can do to prevent major, catastrophic and killer diseases.”
In the case of measles, a person vaccinated as a child was considered vaccinated for life.