Dr Hambleton, Doorstop on Immunisation
Transcript: AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton, Parliament House, 11 April 2013
STEVE HAMBLETON: Thanks everyone for coming here this morning and we're responding to the National Health Performance Authority report on immunisation rates.
Ladies and gentlemen, the science is in. Vaccination saves lives. Vaccination protects our children. Anybody who spreads an anti-vaccination message is hurting our children and we've got to make sure we respond to these sorts of reports and make a difference and make sure we vaccinate our children to protect them.
I'm happy to take some questions.
QUESTION: Dr Hambleton, is one of the reasons that vaccinations are declining is there is no longer any incentive for GPs to chase up patients to make sure that they are fully vaccinated? The Government's withdrawing their incentive program?
STEVE HAMBLETON: Well look we don't know the exact reasons why the vaccination rates are dropping, but we do know that they're dropping in areas where there's low sociodemographic in Aboriginal health areas and we also know perversely there's a reduction in vaccination rates in high sociodemographic areas. So these are parents that have got information, got good information available and yet they're not vaccinating their children. They need to start to - well we need to look at the groups providing those anti-vaccination messages and we need to make sure we stop them providing unbalanced information. We need to say to those parents, you need to get balanced information, you need to protect your children and we need to do better. We also need to say to the Government that your withdrawing funding for GPs to get these vaccination rates up, all of these things are contributing to those lower rates.
STEVE HAMBLETON: Well that's a big concern that people haven't seen the devastating effects of mumps, they haven't seen the devastating effects of measles. Twenty years ago was the last case of measles that I saw. The child was like a rag doll. Had a shocking rash all over them, they were limp in their mother's arms and the mother was terrified. That image is not something that our parents of today have seen and it's not an image that many doctors have seen. In fact talk to your parents and grandparents; they're the ones that can tell you about the devastating effects. And if anyone's ever heard whooping cough in a child below the age of six months, you'll never forget it. It's an awful sound.
QUESTION: Which areas in particular are the most concerned about where you've got people who have high information (*), they know the signs, they're educated and wealthy but they're not choosing to immunise their children?
STEVE HAMBLETON: Well look they are the particular areas that are of major concern. These people who are well informed.
QUESTION: Which areas though?
STEVE HAMBLETON: Well I guess we see central city areas in Victoria, in Melbourne, we see central city areas in Brisbane. There are pockets in Sydney, certainly northern New South Wales, southeast Queensland. We find small pockets in various places. And this data thankfully now we can go down to the postcode. So we can actually track where those parents are living and we need to provide them with information to make sure we're actually doing our bit to actually get those immunisation rates up.
We did warn the Government when they withdrew funding for GPs for that payment for completed vaccination that this is one of the legs of the tripod to maintain our high vaccination rates. We're very concerned that this is the first time we're seeing evidence that in pockets there is insufficient vaccination to prevent those very serious diseases from spreading.
QUESTION: You say the groups who are spreading their?
STEVE HAMBLETON: We certainly do want to see multi-channel immunisation opportunities but the best place immunisation can be done is with your family doctor because we keep all the information in one place, we make sure we have a complete record, we avoid fragmentation and it's the family doctor that can actually forward that information back on to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register. But we certainly want to see other places offering vaccines provided they meet minimum standards of safety.
11 April 2013
CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
Kirsty Waterford 02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753
Published: 11 Apr 2013