Country North South Australia Medicare Local chair and GP, Dr Alison Edwards, said children interacted very closely with each other in schools, kindergartens and child care centres and it was vital that they were fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The National Immunisation Program provides free immunisation for children against 16 different diseases, including measles, mumps and rubella, diphtheria, tetanus whooping cough (pertussis), polio, hepatitis B, rotavirus, meningococcal C and invasive pneumococcal disease.Immunisations are available through GP clinics, Aboriginal health centres and some community health centres and local council immunisation clinics. GP clinics may charge a fee or bulk bill for appointments.
“These diseases are still very widespread in many other areas of the world particularly in our neighbouring countries,” Dr Edwards said.
“Ensuring children are up to date with their immunisations is particularly important given that there have been 17 cases of measles reported in South Australia since October 2013, with four of those cases reported since the start of 2014,” Dr Edwards said.
“Measles is very infectious and often causes very severe illness resulting in hospitalisation, long term complications and sometimes death.
“Unfortunately there is no treatment for measles, the patient is merely kept as comfortable as possible. The only really safe way to protect children is to vaccinate on time, which means two vaccinations – one at 12 months; and the following one at 18 months or four years of age.
Measles vaccine (MMR) is also provided free for people born after or during 1966 who have not already
received two doses of measles vaccine.
Measles is spread by breathing infected airborne droplets caused by coughing and sneezing and by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by nose and throat discharges. Others are at risk for up to two hours after the infected person has left the area.
Parents can check their child’s vaccination history by contacting their GP or accessing the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register at http://www.humanservices.gov.au
Parents can request a history statement for download or to be sent in the mail. Alternatively, they can call the Department of Human Services on 1800 653 809.