Mount Alexander among state’s worst for immunisation; Victoria approaches herd immunity

MOUNT Alexander Shire Council has the second lowest immunisation rate in Victoria, while the rest of the state approaches herd immunity.

Data for 2017 from the Victorian Health Department, released this week, showed the shire has 87.8 per cent coverage – well below the state average of above 95 per cent for 60 to 63-month-old children.

Only Hindmarsh Shire in the state’s rural west had a lower rate.

Mount Alexander Shire director community and corporate support Lisa Knight said the council always encouraged parents to vaccinate their children.

“We know there is a lot of pressure on parents and a large amount of misinformation about vaccination within the community. We would certainly like to see more of our children and young people immunised,” she said.

“Council’s position is that every eligible child should be vaccinated.

“We will continue to promote the importance of immunisation to help protect our community from vaccine preventable diseases.”

Like all councils, Mount Alexander provides free immunisations through its maternal and child health service.

The environmental health team provides vaccinations to older children through a school vaccination program.

In 2017, the Castlemaine-Heathcote-Kyneton statistical area had an immunisation rate of 91.8 per cent for five-year-olds, an increase from 88.1 five years ago.

While the area had some improvement to do, Ms Knight said it was good to see Victoria’s overall immunisation levels increasing.

The City of Greater Bendigo had an immunisation rate of 97.43 per cent, above the state average.

Elsewhere in central Victoria, the Central Goldfields and Buloke achieved 100 per cent immunity, while Gannawarra and Macedon Ranges were also above the 95 per cent level.

Pockets of resistance still existed in inner-city councils in Melbourne.

Health minister Jill Hennessy said parents were increasingly ignoring anti-vaccination messages.

“Despite rogue practitioners still trying to tout misinformation – Victorian parents are listening to science. And that’s great news,” she said.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there is “no debate” and “immunisation is safe, effective and saves lives”.

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