Parents urged to continue children’s immunisations

Paul Hayes

28/04/2020 2:06:25 PM

Experts want to ensure children remain immunised against preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough during the coronavirus outbreak.

Child being immunised
Outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases would particularly devastating as Australia continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

As World Immunisation Week (24–30 April) nears its end, Australian parents are being urged to continue children’s immunisations amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that childhood immunisation rates remain high so as to avoid outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases like measles and whooping cough, which would be even more devastating at the moment due to the strain on the health system,’ Felicity Wever, Director of International Programs at UNICEF Australia, said.
‘It’s at times like the COVID-19 crisis that we see the long-term benefits of such programs, but we can’t let our guard down on immunisation because we’re fighting the COVID-19 battle.
‘Good health and hygiene is our best defence and everyone has a role to play.’
The calls come amid reports of delayed measles immunisation programs in some of Australia’s neighbouring countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.
‘In Australia we’ve worked hard to achieve immunisation rates that are high overall, and it is essential that we maintain this progress,’ Ms Wever said. ‘Whilst we are doing well overall on childhood immunisations, the percentage of children who are fully immunised at the age of two is lower than other age groups.
‘We must accelerate the pace of progress of childhood immunisations. Any declines, particularly for this age group, would be a cause for concern.’
Recent reports have also indicated that more children under the age of five are hospitalised with influenza in Australia than any other vaccine-preventable disease, with low parental awareness of children’s influenza vaccine recommendations a chief culprit.
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