Council will review vaccine processes

VaccinationCOLAC OTWAY Shire Council immunisation officials will ensure their processes are up-to-date after a report of a parent allegedly misusing the service.

The Colac Herald received a report a parent had their child’s health and development record stamped at an immunisation session earlier this month, but then left before nurses administered the immunisation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a “no jab, no pay” policy this week, which would deny government payments to parents who refused to immunise their children.

The council’s environmental health co-ordinator Jonathan Brett said the report was a concern but the government announcement gave his team a chance to review its immunisation process.

“With the introduction of the new policy, it is timely for us to review our processes around the provision of immunisation services,” Mr Brett said.

“We are very concerned by the report of an individual misusing the free immunisation service, and we are investigating the issue.

“We would encourage anyone with information about this issue to contact council.”

Mr Abbott’s policy removes the conscientious objector exemption on children’s vaccinations for access to child care payments including the Child Care Rebate, Child Care Benefit and the Family Tax Benefit Part A.

The policy has bipartisan support and will come into effect from January 1, 2016.

Mr Brett said immunisation was a simple, safe and effective way to protect children from preventable diseases.

“The risks of these diseases are far greater than the very small risks of immunisation,” he said.

“It’s estimated that vaccination currently saves approximately three million lives each year worldwide.”

More than 98 per cent of children aged 12 months are fully immunised in the Colac Otway Shire, 89.58 per cent of two year olds are fully immunised and 97.1 per cent of five year olds.

Mr Brett said the shire’s coverage statistics compared favourably with state and national statistics.

“While our two-year-old coverage is slightly below the desired 90 per cent, this may be due to reasons such as delays in data collection, or late vaccinations,” he said.

“We have no major issues with parents choosing not to immunise their children in Colac Otway Shire.

“Our nurse immunisers discuss any concerns a parent may have, and ultimately parents have the option to conscientiously object.”

The council’s immunisation program includes sessions at Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre on the third Monday and first Thursday of every month or by appointment.

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