Region on top of needles

EDITORIAL:Shot in the arm for Border

THE Border region had the second-highest rate of child immunisation in the country in data released yesterday that was a testament to local providers, a Hume Medicare Local director says.

The figures also revealed the towns of Bundalong and Yarrawonga, in the Goulburn Valley catchment area, had 99 per cent of their five-year-olds immunised; the highest in the country.

The Hume numbers showed 93.9 per cent of one-year-olds are immunised, along with 94.7  per cent of two-year-olds and 94.1 per cent of five-year-olds.

The statistics propelled the region, which takes in Henty down to Mansfield and Corryong across to Jerilderie, to second in the country behind the Great South Coast in Victoria.

“We aim, across the board, to be above 90 per cent in all age groups, which we’ve done,” Hume Medicare Local director of primary health services’ Jacki Eckert said.

“We’re really pleased with where we’re at and good on the community for believing in it.

“It’s fantastic particularly because we’re rural, we’re spread out, so it’s a testament to the providers that are getting out there.”

The figures also revealed the region has one of the lowest number of parents who object to immunisation, with 14 parents of one-year-olds recording a conscientious objection.

But the National Health Performance Authority data also showed the Hume region was below the national average when it comes to the number of teenage girls who received the human papillomavirus vaccine that aims to reduce cervical cancer.

Sixty-six per cent of 15-year-olds in 2012 were immunised as part of a national program, which is below the 70 per cent national rate and significantly under the top-performing Great South Coast statistic of 92 per cent.

Ms Eckert said it could reflect cross-border issues where students live on one side and attend school in the other (vaccines were rolled-out in school programs), or teenagers refusing immunisation at school or those who missed the eligibility window.

She expected the number to rise with the introduction of a new program for teenage boys this year.

Ms Eckert said complacency was the biggest threat to immunisation rates.

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