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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The AMA (WA) has urged parents to take advantage of the upcoming school holidays to get their children vaccinated, calling it a vital step for the health of all children.
AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said today that “Influenza season is coming, and now is the time to ensure you and your family are protected.”
“We urge everyone to get vaccinated, especially with the imminent arrival of America’s deadly H3N2 virus to our shores,” he said.
Dr Choong said it was timely that World Immunisation Week fell in the last week of April – the same time as WA’s school holidays.
“As a parent of a school-aged child myself, I am very aware that parents are busy most weeks of the year. Hopefully the school holidays will give parents a little more time to consider the health of our children,” he said.
At least 20 children died in the US, and severe vaccination shortages occurred around the country over last year’s Christmas period.
Last year WA had one of the highest rates of influenza infections in Australia, with 15 people dying from the epidemic.
“The sad truth is that unless people are prepared, more lives will be unnecessarily lost,” Dr Choong said.
While children can spread flu for significantly longer periods than adults, they are not the only ones who are at risk.
“People most at risk are the old, the infirm, and sufferers of chronic disease,” Dr Choong said.
“Australia is made up of hundreds of thousands of families, and we recommend that vaccination is treated as a family affair.
“We strongly suggest that everyone over the age of six months be vaccinated, and parents start thinking of a convenient time to visit their GP over the upcoming holiday period,” he said.
The news comes as The World Health Organisation announces World Immunisation Week, which occurs over the last week of April.
“Immunisation currently prevents approximately 3 million deaths a year globally, however we need to ensure that misinformation provided by anti-vaccination lobbyists is ignored and people act responsibly,” Dr Choong said.
There has been a recent drop in child immunisation rates in WA over the last year – a statistic that has alarmed the State’s General Practitioners.
“There is always a concern over flu during winter, however this year’s flu season could be particularly bad,” Dr Choong said.