Herd immunity rates differ for various diseases. For measles, to achieve herd immunity the vaccination rate needs to be between 93 and 95% (more is better but can be unrealistic). So it’s not good news that the proportion of children aged two who are fully immunised has fallen from 92.7 per cent in 2008 to 90.5 per cent in December 2017.
There’s lots of interesting stuff in the recently releases Report Card: The Wellbeing of Young Australians – unfortunately much of it makes for disturbing reading with most of the trends running in the wrong direction compared to other developed countries. Our Maths and English results are falling, outcomes for Aboriginal children are horrendous, long-term youth unemployment has shot upwards. The good news is that not many young people smoke. The truly bad news hidden in there is that we are coming last or almost last on immunisation:
In 2015, Australia ranked near the bottom in the OECD for measles immunisation (33 of 35) and 31 of 35 for whooping cough vaccination.
Many reports are rating the report card for Australia as ‘could try harder’. Personally I think it ought to be ‘should be embarrassed by this effort.’ There are a range of indicators do with health and well-being that no developed country should be proud of. But when you consider exactly how much more poorly Aboriginal children fare on all of those outcomes (twice the rate of infant mortality for example) it goes beyond we’re simply not doing the right things and into we’re actually doing the wrong things.
There are basic indicators in this report that the government should be making active efforts to fix. We all know our Maths, English and Science results keep slipping and our government flounders about looking at who to blame – instead of, for example, correlating those results with the fact that “Australia trails the OECD in pre-school attendance, ranked 35 of 40 nations in 2014. The percentage of 4-5 years olds who usually attend preschool has fallen from 85 per cent in 2011 to 83.3 per cent in 2014.” Instead the Federal Minister for Education looks at this Report and says “parents need to start doing more to stem the country’s declining performance.”
But before we get to school results, how about we make an effort to ensure more kids get to school-age by getting them vaccinated?