VACCINATION rates for two-year-old children in Fremantle are amongst the worst in the country according to the latest figures from the WA health department.
Freo’s 82.09 per cent dragged the southern suburbs’ rate well below the state average, although Melville and Cockburn both hover a shade under 90 per cent. The department’s target is 95 per cent.
It’s yet to emerge exactly what effect the federal government’s No Jab, No Pay policy is having on local immunisation rates, as the results only go to September last year, when the bill was before federal parliament.
Vaccination rates in other age groups sky-rocketed in Fremantle over that time: for one-year-olds it jumped 15 per cent from 75.5 to 90.1 per cent, and for five-year-olds it leapt from 83.1 to 93.06 per cent.
Coolbellup mum Katie Attwell’s campaign I Immunise, targeted at Freo’s alternative vaccination-wary crowd, appears to have made similar headway when introduced in March 2014, but as its profile waned, so did the vaccinations.
Straight after I Immunise was launched, rates for two-year olds hit their highest levels ever in Fremantle, jumping from 76.8 per cent to 90.6 per cent. Outside the campaign’s targeted area, rates remained static.
The jump for other age groups wasn’t as dramatic, but five-year olds also bucked their usual trend to crack 90 per cent. Nine months later the rates were back to their lower long-term trend, with only an outbreak of whooping cough seemingly enough to get parents to their child health nurse.
Publicity surrounding the death of Riley John Hughes in Princess Margaret hospital from complications arising from whooping cough last April was enough to reach the target 95 per cent herd immunity in one-year olds in Melville and Cockburn — the only time and the only age group to hit that critical milestone in almost three years.
by STEVE GRANT