All vaccinations administered are reported to the Australian Immunisation Register.
Quarterly figures from the Register provide a snapshot of the proportion of Victorian children in three age cohorts who are immunised for that age, as shown in Figure 1 below.
This demonstrates the improving trend in coverage rates among young Victorian children.
Importantly, more than 95 per cent of Victorian five-year-old children are now immunised for their age (Department of Human Services 2018).
Source: Australian Immunisation Register
Note: there were changes to the National Immunisation Program Schedule in July 2018, which resulted in a change to the definition of ‘fully immunised’. This has resulted in a slight fall in immunisation coverage rates due to errors in reporting.
Why is 95 per coverage important?
Vaccinating all children is important to protect their health and the health of their families, friends and communities. If people are vaccinated or immune to a disease, then non-immune people are much less likely to meet an infected person and catch the disease (this is often called ‘herd immunity’). Non-immune people include people who cannot be vaccinated because of their age (too young or too old) or because their immune systems do not work as well (Department of Health, 2018).
To achieve herd immunity for infectious diseases, coverage needs to be high. Australia’s national aspirational coverage target is 95 per cent. Reaching this aspirational target will give us enough herd immunity to stop the spread of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases (Department of Health, 2018).
Find out more section
The department has an Immunisation page on the Better Health Channel.
No Jab No Play Legislation
Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, an early childhood service may not confirm the enrolment of a child unless it has certification the child is age-appropriately immunised or has an approved exemption.
The No Jab No Play legislation, which came into effect on 1 January 2016, provides an exemption from immunisation requirements for children with a medical contraindication to a vaccine, while conscientious objection to vaccination was no longer exempt (Department of Health and Human Services 2018a).
There is provision to allow enrolment of children whose immunisation documentation has not been provided if they are experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage (Department of Health and Human Services 2018a).
Services are required to follow up with those families following enrolment, to seek certification of immunisation (Department of Health and Human Services 2018a).
Following the commencement of this legislation, Victoria's immunisation rates steadily increased.
Victoria now has the second highest immunisation coverage nationally for five-year-olds, with 95.4 per cent fully immunised by the end of 2018 (Department of Human Services 2018).
This compares with the Australian average of 94.7 per cent (Department of Human Services 2018).
Victoria has now reached the 95 per cent ‘herd immunity’ target, which is necessary to halt the spread of dangerous and virulent diseases such as measles.
In 2018, Parliament passed the Health and Child Welfare Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 to address issues created by a self-admitted anti-vaccination medical practitioner who assisted families to avoid Victorian and Commonwealth immunisation requirements (Department of Health and Human Services 2018b).
These amendments removed the option of a doctor’s letter as acceptable evidence of immunisation status. An immunisation history statement from the Australian Immunisation Register is now required.
The Bill also included provisions that require parents to provide early childhood services with evidence that their child continues to be up-to-date with their immunisations after enrolment and for the duration of attendance at the service (Department of Health and Human Services 2018b).
Early childhood services now remind parents of this obligation twice a year. This additional prompt helps keep children's immunisations up to date (Department of Health and Human Services 2018b).
Find out more.
The department has a No Jab No Play page for information about this important public health initiative.
Department of Health 2018, Questions about vaccination, Commonwealth Government of Australia, Canberra.
Department of Health and Human Services 2018a, No Jab No Play information, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
Department of Health and Human Services 2018b, Amendments to the No Jab No Play legislation, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.
Department of Human Services 2018, Australian Immunisation Register, Commonwealth Government of Australia, Canberra.