The Latrobe Valley is punching well above its weight in Victorian vaccination targets with the region recording one of the highest childhood immunisation rates in the state.
The latest Australian Childhood Immunisation Register figures showed that 97.66 per cent of five-year-olds in Latrobe City were fully immunised.
This is well above the state average of 95 per cent, which is needed to reach herd immunity, and is the highest vaccination rate in Victoria’s history.
Baw Baw, South Gippsland and East Gippsland shires hit just above the 95 per cent mark.
Latrobe City Council family services manager Kate Kerslake said local vaccination rates improved after the immunisation program was moved from health to family services a few years ago.
“Parents are really positive and receptive to it. It’s fantastic for the Valley if we can mitigate childhood diseases and promote the Valley’s health and well-being,” Ms Kerslake said.
“We’ve seen beneficial impacts by promoting immunisation through maternal and child health programs, and vaccinations are closely aligned at key ages and visits to the program.”
Ms Kerslake said children were vaccinated against a range of diseases including whooping cough, tetanus, measles, influenza, mumps and rubella.
“Latrobe has a wide range of easily accessible services and parents are constantly reminded of when sessions are held, and our team is qualified and skilled at delivering these services,” she said.
Ms Kerslake also attributed successful vaccination rates to the Victorian Government’s No Jab No Play laws which mean that kids must be vaccinated to attend childcare.
Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said vaccinations save lives.
“Our sustained investment in community education has made a really positive difference,” she said.
“These results show that our No Jab, No Play laws were protecting Victorian kids from deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the results proved Victorian parents were listening to the scientific evidence surrounding vaccinations, rather than “rogue practitioners”.
“We know the more people who are vaccinated – the greater the protection for everyone. There is no debate. Immunisation is safe, effective and saves lives,” Ms Hennessy said.