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Immunization rates in Aussie children continues to improve: study

CANBERRA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- More Australian children are being immunized by their parents after the government's introduction of a "no jab, no pay" policy, which bans parents of unimmunized children from accessing welfare benefits and rebates, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Releasing a report detailing the immunization rates of children in 2015-16, the AIHW said a record 93 percent of Australian five-year-olds had been immunized compared to 90 percent in 2011-12.

In a statement accompanying the release, AIHW spokesperson Michael Frost said that while improvements had been made in the overall immunization rate, the 93 percent figure was still below the national target of 95 percent.

He said immunization was "a safe and effective way of reducing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases in the community," and vital in "protecting against potentially serious health problems."

"(But) the good news is that for the first time, all 31 of Australia's Primary Health Network (PHN) areas now have immunization rates for five-year-olds above 90 percent," Frost said on Thursday.

"And the gap we see between the areas with the highest and lowest immunization rates have started to shrink."

While most Australians are happy to immunize their children, Frost said there are still some parents who refused to take their children to their general practitioner (GP).

"When looking at smaller areas, like postcode areas, we see much greater variation in immunization rates, from a high of almost 100 percent and to a low of 71 percent for fully immunized five-year-olds," he said.

"Even though the majority of Australian kids are immunized, it's important to maintain high immunization rates to protect the community, including vulnerable groups such as babies who are too young to receive their vaccines."


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