An unvaccinated seven-year-old girl is fighting for life in hospital after she picked up tetanus while playing in the garden of her northern NSW home.
Doctors and pro-vaccination advocates say the tragic case is a wake-up call for the NSW north coast region, which has some of the lowest immunisation rates in Australia.
The girl, who's in a critical condition at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, was initially treated at Lismore Base Hospital on Tuesday after she started displaying symptoms of the potentially deadly disease.
"She was suffering very painful spasms to her body and jaw muscles," paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said.
The girl likely picked up the disease, which is transmitted by bacteria in soil, through an open wound on her foot.
"It's just very, very sad that a trivial injury can lead to having tetanus in this day and age where vaccination is the key to preventing it," Dr Ingall told AAP on Friday.
Tetanus cases are extremely rare in Australia and there is no cure, with treatment focused on managing the complications.
"This is a stand-out I hoped I would never see in my time here," Dr Ingall said.
"It's incredibly frustrating and my only hope is that this incident turns the tide for people who do have different belief systems," he said, adding that he hoped to speak to the girl's devastated mother in the future.
The case comes in the same week American anti-vaccination advocate David Wolfe held a sold-out seminar in the nearby town of Mullumbimby.
Alison Gaylard, from the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters, criticised Byron Shire Council for allowing the controversial speaker to use the Mullumbimby Civic Hall on Thursday.
"It just seems tragic that while he could have been talking about his stance on vaccinations, there was an unvaccinated child being hospitalised with such an easily preventable disease," Ms Gaylard said on Friday.
The community needs extra government support to deal with the issue. "I could cry because it feels like we're failing children," she said.
Byron Shire Council's director of corporate and community services, Mark Arnold, said the council did not have a position on vaccination.
"Our halls are managed by local committees and there is currently no list of who can or can't hire the public venues," he said in a statement.
NSW Health, which is in charge of immunisation and education programs across the state, said it's Save the Date to Vaccinate campaign this year has a particular focus on the state's north coast, with additional community-based advertising in place.