The objective of this audit was to assess the effectiveness of the Australian Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage.
Immunisation is an effective way to protect individuals from harmful infections and to prevent the spread of disease in the community. The Australian and state and territory health ministers agreed in 2008 that a new national immunisation strategy be developed. The Department of Health (Health) and its National Immunisation Committee oversaw the development of the strategy, which was endorsed by the state and territory governments and published in 2013. An updated version was published in 2019. Both versions of the strategy focus on the governance and implementation of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and include the strategic priority ‘improve immunisation coverage’.
For 2019–20 Health reported that immunisation coverage for all five year olds was 94.77 per cent and coverage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander one-year-old children was 93.4 per cent, against a target rate of 95 per cent. Funding for vaccine purchasing and services to support immunisation uptake has increased from $10 million a year in the mid-1970s to more than $488.7 million for NIP vaccines in 2021–22. The audit provides assurance to the Australian Parliament and the public on the effectiveness of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage.
The audit objective was to assess the effectiveness of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage.
- The Department of Health’s approach to improving and monitoring immunisation coverage has been largely effective, as reported immunisation rates have been improving.
- While Health has not established an implementation plan for the national immunisation strategies, it has implemented or is implementing most of the key actions identified in the 2013–18 National Immunisation Strategy and is progressing the key actions in the 2019–24 strategy. Health’s approach to improving immunisation coverage, which includes distributing vaccines under the National Partnership on Essential Vaccines and implementing vaccination awareness campaigns, has been largely effective. Immunisation coverage has improved for children and adolescents, but Health does not have sufficient data to determine if immunisation coverage has improved for other cohorts.