- Misinformation about vaccination is dangerous
- Immunisation vital to reduce the spread of serious illness
- National Immunisation Program protects children from 16 preventable illnesses
The emergence of anti-vaccination billboards in the Perth metropolitan area directing people to unsubstantiated claims about immunisation is dangerous and misleading.
The World Health Organization considers immunisation to be the most effective medical intervention we have to prevent deaths and reduce disease in our communities.
The vaccines in the National Immunisation Program (NIP) currently protect young children from 16 serious infections including measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, haemophilus influenzae type B disease, hepatitis B, rotavirus, varicella (chickenpox), meningococcal disease, influenza and pneumococcal disease.
It is a common misconception that many of these infections are not serious; however, they can all cause serious illnesses and in some cases death, even among children who are otherwise fit and healthy.
While immunisation rates have been rising in Western Australia in recent years, reaching 93 per cent this year for children assessed at one and five years of age, the rates are still below the optimal community protection level of 95 per cent.
It is imperative that families continue to be immunised and listen to the advice and recommendations of credible, public health experts about the safety and necessity of vaccination.
Childhood vaccinations through State-based programs and the NIP - a joint initiative of the State and Commonwealth governments - are free; however, parents are advised to check with their GP to see if a consultation fee would be charged.
For factual information on immunisation, visit http://healthywa.wa.gov.au
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"It is bitterly disappointing that members of the community would spread misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations in an attempt to scare people into not vaccinating their children, or themselves.
"Vaccination saves people's lives and keeps vulnerable community members, who cannot get vaccinated due to medical conditions or their age (very young infants), safe from disease.
"I am calling on local governments and outdoor advertising companies, to take action and get these billboards, which direct people to websites that pedal lies and misinformation, off our streets.
"Further, I appeal for all Western Australians to ignore these dangerous and misleading billboards and seek credible advice from their GP on the importance of vaccinations. Immunisation against these preventable diseases could save the life of you and your children."
Minister's office - 6552 6500