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Nurses to help lift baby jab rates
Baby Kiki Johnson is weighed by child health nurse Jocelyn Bristol and mother Mai Rikiishi. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

An extra 100 child health nurses will raise WA's poor vaccination rate, which was the lowest in the country last year, and increase the low number of children who have recommended health checks, Health Minister Kim Hames said yesterday.

Only 30 per cent of 18-month-olds and 10 per cent of three-year-olds have the checks, which are carried out to pick up health and developmental problems.

The State Government will employ the new child health nurses over the next four years with $58.5 million that was announced in last week's Budget.

Dr Hames said the funding boost would allow WA "to get it at least as good if not better than any other State with a significant increase in numbers".

WA's immunisation rate among children starting school was the lowest in the country last year, with numbers falling short of the 90 per cent needed to achieve "herd immunity" in some areas.

Jocelyn Bristol, a child health nurse in South Perth, said funding constraints meant conditions such as autism were not detected by child health nurses.

"We have been struggling in meeting the needs of our clients for the last 20 years," she said.

Shadow health minister Roger Cook welcomed the extra 100 nurses but said more were needed because there was a shortfall of 150 child health nurses.