The percentage of 5-year-old Australian children who are fully immunized has reached a national record of 94.78%, cementing Australia as a global leader in the fight against preventable disease and infection.
New data for the March quarter from the Australian National Immunization Register reveals vaccination rates increased 0.11% between December 2018 and March 2019. The record rate is well above the global average, which sits at around 85%.
"The latest figures show that the vast majority of parents are hearing the message about the benefits of vaccinations,” Greg Hunt, Australia’s minister for health, wrote on Facebook. “I am delighted that our public health campaigns and our immunization programs are protecting all Australians.”
Notably, Indigenous children under 5 years of age surpassed the national average, achieving almost 97% coverage.
Five-year-old children in Victoria achieved the highest vaccination rate of any state, reaching 95.67%. Tasmania similarly attained a rate of over 95%, followed by South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales, and Queensland.
Western Australia achieved the lowest rates in the nation, coming in at 93.42%.
Immunization rates likewise increased for 1- and 2-year-olds. The 1-year-old national vaccination average reached 94.14%, with ACT, Victoria, and South Australia all recording above average. For 2-year-olds, the vaccine rate reached 91.15%, with Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, and ACT all beating the national mean.
The record rates have been linked to the fact that Australia has among the sternest immunization rules in the world.
In 2017, Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales introduced the No Jab, No Play policy, which forbids children from attending childcare facilities unless their parents can provide the service with proof of full, up to date immunization records.
In December 2018, Queensland likewise introduced the legislation.
Under the policy, families obtaining the government’s Family Tax Benefit payments — intended to ease the cost of raising children — are also finned $28 AUD every two weeks for each of their unvaccinated children.
The Australian government also invests over $400 million in the National Immunization Program each year to ensure at risk Australians can receive a range of free vaccines. An additional $20 million has also been invested over six years, until 2022, to support the national ‘Get the Facts about Immunization’ advertising campaign.