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Lord Mayor gives childhood immunisation debate a boost

22 January, 2013

Lord Mayor gives childhood immunisation debate a boost

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has reaffirmed council’s long-standing commitment to providing free childhood immunisations as the debate over whether children should be vaccinated continues to flare.

The Lord Mayor will today join the Australian Medical Association Queensland to announce council’s free vaccination schedule for the first six months of 2013.

Cr Quirk said council would continue to spend about $700,000 this year immunising children aged between six weeks and eight years against potentially life-threatening diseases such as measles, whooping cough, polio and tetanus for free.

“As both Lord Mayor and a parent I strongly believe in the benefits of vaccinations for a healthy child and community, however it’s ultimately a parent’s choice to immunise their child,” he said.

“This free program is about ensuring every parent has that choice as part of my plan to build a more accessible and inclusive Brisbane.”

Cr Quirk said Brisbane City Council had been running its immunisation program for more than 80 years (since 1931) and had administered 13,000 children with 30,000 vaccinations in 2012.

The debate about childhood vaccinations hit boiling point earlier this month when major book chains pulled an anti-immunisation guide, Melanie’s Marvellous Measles, from their shelves after it was heavily criticised for encouraging parents to allow their children to contract the potentially-fatal measles virus.

This followed an alarming report late last year by the Australian Academy of Science, which revealed the number of parents choosing not to immunise their children had increased six-fold in the last decade.

This is despite the same report, which has the backing of medical groups such as the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ), showing vaccinations had been vital in reducing the number of deaths from infectious diseases (see page 2 for more details).

AMA Queensland President Dr Alex Markwell said immunisation rates in the state need to be improved and more programs like the Brisbane City Council’s are needed.

“We should be increasing immunisation programs in Queensland,” Dr Markwell said.

“Vaccination is one of the great success stories of modern medicine and public health and risks associated with immunisation are far less than the infectious diseases they prevent.

“There are virtually no cases of mumps or diphtheria in children anymore. Chicken pox, haemophylis influenza B and meningococcal meningitis are rarely seen.

“But we can’t be complacent because as immunisation rates drop, the incidence of previously rare diseases such as congenital rubella and tetanus are starting to climb.

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“At present approximately 90 per cent of Queensland children are immunised, if we can increase that to 95 per cent it will mean those children who can’t be immunised and are still susceptible to certain diseases are less likely to come into contact with someone who is carrying the infectious agent.”

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said residents would have access to over 300 immunisation sessions across 14 locations between January and June this year. Council’s vaccination schedules are released every six months.

Cr Quirk said council’s immunisation timetable was available on the Brisbane City Council website and at various council facilities.

“We’ve also distributed our vaccination timetable to over 100 hospitals, community groups and doctor surgeries around Brisbane to ensure everybody has best chance of accessing this important free service,” he said.

Cr Quirk said the clinic would held in the following suburbs on a weekly or fortnightly basis in 2013: Ashgrove, Carina, Chermside, Corinda, Forest Lake, Indooroopilly, Keperra, New Farm, Nundah, Paddington, Sandgate, Sunnybank Hills, Upper Mount Gravatt, Wynnum.

He said bookings were not required to attend. See attached page for full vaccination schedule.





Source: The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, Australian Academy of Science, 2012, p11



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