The federal government will ensure 170,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents are vaccinated against the flu for free and additionally provide a $12 million to boost a national immunisation education campaign.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said seasonal influenza vaccines will be available at no cost through the National Immunisation Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents for the first time.
He said this announcement follows a recommendation from the independent medical experts at the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and contributes to the federal government’s Close the Gap agenda.
“As a result of this measure, almost 170,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adolescents aged five to 14 years of age will now be able to access an influenza vaccine at no cost,” Mr Entsch said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a significantly higher burden from influenza infection and are much more likely to be hospitalised with this disease.
“This means all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children 6 months of age to 14 year olds in Cape York and Torres Strait will now be able to receive a seasonal influenza vaccine at no cost through our national program, making it easier for parents and providers.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said an additional $12 million will be spent over the next three years to expand the reach of the successful Get the Facts about Immunisation campaign.
“The current campaign will be expanded into national television advertising to raise awareness of the benefits and importance of immunisation,” Mr Hunt said.
“This brings the total investment in this campaign to $20 million over six years, and shows our government’s commitment to supporting parents make informed decisions by providing evidence based information about immunisation.”
Mr Hunt said he was also pleased to release the National Immunisation Strategy 2019–24 today
“The strategy builds upon the success of the first National Immunisation Strategy 2013–18 and articulates a vision for improving immunisation outcomes shared with states and key stakeholders,” Mr Hunt said.
“The strategy has been agreed by all health ministers, showing a strong national approach to immunisation in Australia.
“It has eight priority areas for action by governments, health providers and the community, to complement and strengthen the National Immunisation Program with the aim of maximising immunisation coverage in people of all ages.
“I am proud to say that Australia’s child immunisation rates are at record levels.
“The latest data shows the nationwide immunisation rate for five-year-olds was 94.62 per cent, which is the highest figure on record.
“This is very close to the 95 per cent immunity we aim to achieve.”
The new National Immunisation Strategy 2019–24 can be accessed at: