New regulations to boost immunisation rates

Child health nurse Maree Deimel, Naturaliste immunisation coordinator Jenny Jurat, nurse manager Donna Guthridge.
Child health nurse Maree Deimel, Naturaliste immunisation coordinator Jenny Jurat, nurse manager Donna Guthridge.

New regulations will require childcare services, kindergartens and schools in WA to collect and, in some cases, report on the immunisation status of all students from January 1, 2019. 

The information will help families ensure their children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases. It will also enable the Health Department to identify under-vaccinated children and potentially exclude them when there is an outbreak.

The person in charge of a childcare service, kindergarten or school can be fined $1,000 if they allow a child to attend the facility in defiance of a direction from the Chief Health Officer. 

To implement phase two of No Jab No Play, the state government will introduce legislation to allow the officer to exclude children who are not fully vaccinated from enrolling in childcare services and kindergarten.

Health Minister Roger Cook said WA was still seeing children who were not fully immunised, putting other children and the community at risk.

“These changes will allow the Department of Health to readily access immunisation-related data and to support families to ensure their children are up to date with their vaccinations,” he said.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said the measures would increase childhood vaccination rates to ensure the safety of WA schoolchildren. 

“In 2017, WA recorded the lowest immunisations coverage for two-year-olds of 89.1 per cent,” she said. 

“The No Jab No Play policy will ensure vaccination rates for our youngest and most vulnerable children are lifted.”

WA Country Health Service’s Nancy Birch has praised the communities of Augusta, Margaret River and Busselton after they were named as having Western Australia’s most improved immunisation rates for 2017/18.

Declared at the Annual Public Health Nurse update, Ms Birch – the region’s immunisation coordinator - said the improvement was a result of hard work and collaboration between the WA Country Health Service and GPs.

“We are delighted to see the uptake in vaccination rates – particularly in communities where there had previously been some resistance,” she said. 

“I must also acknowledge all immunisation providers – including our GPs – for all that they do in spreading the message of prevention.”

Ms Birch said recommended vaccines as per the WA Immunisation Schedule were vital in not only preventing disease but providing protection to the broader community. “The fact of the matter is: immunisation saves lives,” she said. “It protects you, your family and your community, and it also helps protect future generations by eradicating diseases.”