Unvaccinated kids at risk of diseases

ALMOST 10% of Bundaberg's youngest children are not protected against preventable killer diseases.

ARM Newsdesk analysis of Australian Childhood Immunisation Register data reveals 6.9% of the region's one, two and five-year-olds are not immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, meningococcal, chickenpox and other illnesses.

The region's immunisation rate of 93.1% is 1.9% lower than the national target of 95%.

Two-year-olds are the least immunised with 7.7% - 77 of Bundaberg's 1001 Medicare-registered toddlers - going without their jabs.

About 67 - or 6.2% - of the region's 1081 five-year-olds have not been immunised and 69 - or 6.9% - of our area's 1002 one-year-olds are not protected from childhood diseases.

Bundaberg chief medico Dr Rosanne Muller said immunisations saved lives.

"Immunisation is really important for children under the age of five because children in these age groups are very effective spreaders of disease," the Wide Bay Public Health Unit director said.

She urged parents who were reluctant to vaccinate to talk about the risks with their doctors.

"There are people who have very fixed ideas about it and it's very hard to sway those people," she said.

"The benefits of vaccinations outweigh the risks.

"Vaccines are important because although diseases like measles, diphtheria and polio are much less common they still exist and outbreaks can cause serious illness and death."

All of the country's chief health officers agreed last year to a national immunisation target of 95%. The target takes into account children who cannot be immunised for health reasons.

National Health Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson said the data would help authorities better target immunisation strategies.

WHY IMMUNISE?

Any reactions to immunisation are generally mild and usually do not need medical treatment.

The risk of complications from childhood diseases is much higher than the risks from immunisation.

Delaying immunisation may leave children vulnerable to diseases.

Combining vaccines reduces the number of injections that babies and children need.

Every vaccine used in Australia has Therapeutic Goods Administration approval.