ACT News


Disease concern despite jabs

DESPITE the ACT having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, more than 200 Canberra residents have ended up in the emergency department of Canberra Hospital with preventable illnesses including mumps, measles and hepatitis B.

Since 2010 the hospital has treated six cases of meningococcal and pneumococcal and 21 patients, mostly children aged under 10, have contracted whooping cough.

Children under 10 were also the main sufferers of chickenpox after 18 have been admitted to hospital since 2010.

But more than half of the hospital stays were for people who contracted the flu. Some 97 were admitted to the hospital last year, 50 of those children under 10. The most recent National Health Performance Authority figures found the ACT leads the country for immunisation, with 94 per cent of children under one being vaccinated, compared with a national average of 92 per cent.

By age two, 94 per cent of ACT children were vaccinated compared with a national average of 93 per cent and by age three, 92 per cent were vaccinated compared with a national average of 90 per cent.

But, a healthy communities' report released by the authority last month showed inner-south Canberra had the ACT's lowest immunisation rate in all three age groups.

Only 86 per cent of one-year-olds were fully vaccinated, 6 per cent less than the national average, and just 1 per cent above the level considered ''at risk''.

A spokeswoman from ACT Health said vaccination was the most cost-effective health intervention in the past 100 years.

''Vaccination has eliminated diseases which were common in the 1950s and '60s and as a result two generations of parents now have no direct experience with conditions such as diphtheria, tetanus and rubella,'' she said.