WA vaccination rate lowest in the country ahead impending flu season
WA has the lowest flu vaccination rate in the country ahead of the July-to-October peak infection season.
The low rate of immunisation is across all age categories, with only the Northern Territory faring worse in the over-65s category, according to the latest data from National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS).
Only 0.3 per cent of children aged under five years have been vaccinated in WA compared with 2.9 per cent in Victoria and 2 per cent in NSW.
In NSW, a highly-contagious influenza A strain is rampant across childcare centres and preschools. It has been dubbed the “kindy flu” there.
In the 5-15 age group, only 0.4 per cent of WA children have been vaccinated.
1,500 Australian children are hospitalised annually with influenza; tragically, some die from this vaccine-preventable disease. More than 50 per cent of young Australian children admitted to hospitals with influenza are otherwise healthy.
Among 15-50-year-olds, the WA vaccination rate is slightly higher at 1.2 per cent, compared with 3.3 per cent in Victoria and 4.1 per cent in South Australia.
In the 50-to-65 category, WA’s vaccination rate of 2.7 per cent is less than the national average of 6.2 per cent. For those over 65, who are most at risk from the flu, the WA rate is higher at 10.1 per cent but is well below the 14.9 per cent national average and less than half of South Australia’s rate of 20.3 per cent.
Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. Optimal protection against influenza occurs within three to four months following vaccination.
On Friday, Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson announced the State Government was providing free flu vaccines for all Western Australians during May.
She urged people against complacency.
“Do not underestimate the seriousness of influenza — it is highly contagious and can cause great harm,” she said.
“It is especially important that young children, older adults, and people with chronic medical conditions protect themselves by vaccination.
“Now is also the time to ensure your COVID-19 vaccinations are current; influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be given on the same day.”