Immunisation rates improve for Australian children

The proportion of Australian children who are fully immunised continues to rise, but significant variation remains across local communities, a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals.

The report, Healthy Communities: Immunisation rates for children in 2015-16, shows that about 93% of Australian 5 year olds were fully immunised in 2015-16. This is up from 90% in 2011-12, but still below the national target of 95%.

'Immunisation is a safe and effective way of reducing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases in the community and protecting against potentially serious health problems,' said AIHW spokesperson Michael Frost.

The report examines immunisation rates across Australia's 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas. PHNs are organisations that connect health services over local geographic areas. 

'The good news is that for the first time, all 31 of Australia's PHN areas now have immunisation rates for five year olds above 90%,' Mr Frost said.

'And the gap we see between the areas with the highest and lowest immunisation rates has started to shrink.'

However, the report shows that differences remain across PHN areas. The proportion of fully immunised 5 year olds was highest in Western NSW and Murrumbidgee (NSW) at 96%, while North Coast (NSW) (90%), Perth North (91%), Perth South (91%) and Gold Coast (91%) had the lowest rates.

'When looking at smaller areas, like postcode areas, we see much greater variation in immunisation rates, from a high of almost 100% and a low of 71% for fully immunised 5 year olds,' Mr Frost said.

Releasing local immunisation information can help local health system managers understand what's happening in their community and where improvements are needed.

'Even though the majority of Australian kids are immunised, it's important to maintain high immunisation rates to protect the community, including vulnerable groups such as babies who are too young to receive their vaccines,' Mr Frost said.

Detailed immunisation results for 1, 2 and 5 year olds at three levels of geography, plus results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, are available at www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au.

Updated information about patients' experiences with health and healthcare is also now available on the website. The web update shows variation across PHN areas in patients' access to and use of services, financial barriers to seeking care, and self-reported health.

Canberra, 8 June 2017

Further information: Elizabeth Ingram, AIHW, tel. 02 6249 5048, mob. 0431 871 337