A Healthy Boost for Tasmanian Children

Labor will lift vaccination and immunisation rates in Tasmania.

Tasmania has some of the country’s lowest levels of immunisation coverage in children in all groups between birth and five years at the key ages when vaccination is recommended.

A Labor Government will make the protection of children from disease and protection for staff who care forchildren a priority.

Vaccination and Immunisation in Tasmania

The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) shows Tasmania’s immunisation rate for children aged 12-15 months is just below 93%. While that shows the vast majority of parents are doing the right thing, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t aim to be the state where all children are given protection from disease.

Immunisation coverage rates for Tasmanian children aged between 24 and 27 months decreases to 89.7%, compared to the national average of 90.1%.

There remains a significant cohort of Tasmanian children aged up to five years who are not fully immunised.

Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests there are pockets of the community where immunisation rates are substantially lower.

In fact Primary Health Tasmania estimates that vaccination rates may vary from 67% to 88% in some communities.

The National Immunisation Schedule recommends vaccination at birth for Hepatitis B, two months, four months and six months for Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Influenzae Type B, Whooping Cough, Polio and Rotavirus, at 12 months for Meningococcal, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, at 18 months for Chicken Pox and again at four years for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough and Polio.

While there is a small but recognised group of parents across the nation and in Tasmania who identify as conscientious objectors for the purpose of not vaccinating their children, many of those children who slip through the cracks in relation to the immunisation schedule do so because their families simply forget to keep up with vaccinations.

Ensuring Protection From Preventable Disease

Labor will make the protection of children from disease and protection for staff who care for children a priority.

A Labor Government will achieve this priority by legislating to build a path toward lifting Tasmania’s immunisation rates above 95% with the ultimate aim of achieving a 100% coverage among Tasmanian children.

Under Labor’s A Healthy Boost for Tasmanian Children plan, child care centres and primary schools will be given the authority to refuse enrolment to families and children who are not fully immunised by amending the Public Health Act.

This sensible approach to disease prevention offers protection to not only all children in child care centres and primary schools, but for the staff who care for them.

It is a powerful safeguard for children whose parents are doing the right thing by adhering to the immunisation schedule but also provides a timely reminder to those parents who may have forgotten to immunise their children as well as providing the information they need to seek vaccinations.

In that regard, it empowers local health professionals to educate parents who have not fully immunised their children.

It also addresses the ill-informed, gross exaggeration surrounding the risks associated with vaccination by providing factual information to those parents who may object to immunisation, in a bid to prevent the spread of preventable disease.

Child Health and Parenting Services

Our policy is not about punishing parents. It’s about supporting families to vaccinate their children.

Labor understands how important access is for universal health checks, so that children can get their vaccinations and other critical health checks when they need them.  Child Health and Parenting Services (CHaPs) nurses play a pivotal role in the health and development of many children, that is why we are committed to ensuring that all current CHaPS nurses positions are filled.

The Hodgman Liberal Government has failed to recruit and retain CHaPS nurses, creating many unfilled vacancies around the state. To help us attract and retain staff Labor will employ CHaPS nurses within the Tasmanian Health Service, rather than the Department of Health and Human Services so their conditions are equivalent with other nursing staff.