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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The Australian Medical Association (WA) has welcomed the newly-launched WA Immunisation Strategy 2013-2015, but said the lack of legislation preventing unvaccinated children from attending child care centres is a gaping flaw.
AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong called the Strategy, which was launched today by Minister for Health, the Hon. Kim Hames, an affirmative step in the right direction.
“We have watched with growing concern the falling rates of immunisation in WA and therefore wholeheartedly welcome the government’s action plan,” Dr Choong said.
“The Department of Health needs to be congratulated for unveiling this strategy, which will no doubt go a long way in boosting immunisation rates in Western Australia. However the path to improved immunisation rates requires the cooperation of everyone – the State Government, medical professionals and the community itself.
“We are encouraged by the government’s focus on five-year-old children. However, targeting five-year-olds may be considered too late, as by this time the vaccination schedule is nearly complete.
“We strongly believe that more work needs to be done with younger age groups such as children who attend child care centres.
“The Minister has said childcare centres should have the right to refuse entry to unvaccinated children. However he has stopped short of legislation.
“The AMA believes that without legislation, there will be confusion. And from that will stem indecision. We cannot risk the health of this State any longer. “Ultimately we are not targeting the conscientious objectors, but those parents who haven’t got around to the all-important duty of vaccinating their children. These children risk the welfare and well-being of others attending these child care centres,” Dr Choong said.
He added the AMA (WA) hoped the Immunisation Strategy was modelled on a sustainable message of vaccination.
“To be truly effective, the Health Department needs to work closely with the Education Department to ensure that school records are complete.
“Moreover, every child who is not vaccinated should be followed up by health care workers. We are mindful that some parents conscientiously object to their children being vaccinated. However it is crucial to identify these children, as in the event of an outbreak, we need to be able to protect them,” he said.
Dr Choong also expressed concern about funding for the Immunisation Strategy.
“We hope the State Government devotes the necessary resources and funds, which this program would require to be effectively implemented,” Dr Choong said.