Children with allergies are being denied lifesaving vaccinations against diseases such as measles because some doctors and nurses wrongly fear bad reactions, according to a Perth immunologist.
Richard Loh, president of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, which is holding a national summit in Sydney today, said most children with allergies could be safely vaccinated but there was a lot of misinformation about the risks, even among health professionals.
He was aware of cases of children allergic to egg being denied vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, and the flu.
"We're getting referrals at clinics from health professionals like doctors and nurses that this child is allergic and can't be given their MMR and it can take five or six months until the child can be seen," he said.
"I would be devastated if somebody got measles in the interim because my department couldn't see them in time."
Long public waiting lists at allergy clinics around the country meant people had to live with bad eczema and allergic rhinitis (hay fever) when there were good treatments available.
Dr Loh said as awareness grew about allergies, more people were coming forward seeking referrals, diagnosis and treatment.
"So it's a double-edged sword for us, because we want to see the patients but we have to have the appropriate resources to manage them," he said.
Dr Loh said some States were developing resources about allergies for schools and childcare centres but they were inconsistent and it would be safer and more efficient if Australia had national resources.
Maria Said, president of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, said allergic diseases were commonly perceived as trivial but they cost Australia $30 billion a year and people died from severe allergic reactions to insects, drugs and foods.
"Allergic diseases are increasing and affect one in five Australians," she said.