Although the percentage of children fully immunised in Australia is high, rates are not uniform across the country and there are significant variations at the local level.
The third report on child immunisation rates from the National Health Performance Authority finds that while coverage has improved in some local areas, there are a number of areas where rates remain potentially too low to prevent the spread of diseases.
The report shows the percentages of children who were fully immunised at 1 year, 2 years and 5 years, as well as the numbers of children who are not fully immunised, in each of the 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas. Where possible the results are broken down into smaller geographic areas – including more than 300 statistical areas and across Australian postcodes. The report focuses on variation in immunisation rates for 1 year olds at different levels of geography including changes in immunisation rates over time.
In late 2014, the Australian Chief Medical Officer and all state and territory chief health officers agreed to an aspirational target for 95% of children to be fully immunised in line with the National Immunisation Program Schedule. The report shows that for 1-year-old children, rates are below 95% in all PHN areas, although this fact does not reflect on the performance of PHNs as they were set up after the period to which the data relate.
The report finds:
- 90.9% of all children aged 1, 2 and 5 years were fully immunised and 9.1% (84,571) were not fully immunised, though rates vary across local areas
- 89.2% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 1, 2 and 5 years were fully immunised and 10.8% (4,922) were not fully immunised, though rates vary across local areas
- Immunisation rates for all 1 year olds ranged across PHN areas from 93.6% to 87.7% with a total of 26,671 children not fully immunised nationally. None of the 31 PHNs had immunisation rates of 95% or higher for this age group
- Immunisation rates for 2 year olds ranged across PHN areas from 92.3% to 86.7% with a total of 33,681 children not fully immunised nationally. None of the 31 PHNs had immunisation rates of 95% or above for this age group, although rates for 2 year olds may have been lower due to a recent change in the number of vaccines counted in the definition for ‘fully immunised’ 2 year olds
- Immunisation rates for 5 year olds ranged across PHN areas from 95.6% to 89.2% with a total of 24,219 children not fully immunised nationally. Only two of the 31 PHN areas had immunisation rates of 95% or higher for this age group
- Across smaller local areas (SA3s), among all 1-year-old children, 39 out of 324 local areas (SA3s) recorded a significant increase in immunisation rates, while only one area showed a significant decrease. Among 5 year olds, 16 SA3s showed an increase and six a decrease
- Immunisation rates for 1-year-old Indigenous children significantly increased in seven out of 49 geographic areas (SA4s) where data were available, and decreased in none.