The West

Vaccine neglect  child abuse, say doctors
Get the jab: AMA chief wants children to be vaccinated. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The head of WA's peak medical group has lambasted parents who do not immunise their children as guilty of child abuse.

Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon said it was time to stop mincing words about parents who did not vaccinate their children through choice or complacency.

Dr Gannon, an obstetrician, said some parents took the selfish attitude that they were happy for other children to be vaccinated to indirectly protect their own unvaccinated children.

"It's a form of child abuse and people are doing something which takes away from the potential of their children and might harm their children's friends and their wider family," he said.

"I know it's a strong line to take but I don't shy away from it."

Dr Gannon wants mobile "vaccination squads" to go to suburbs with the worst immunisation rates, including affluent suburbs such as Mosman Park and East Fremantle, because putting a few pro-immunisation posters in surgeries was not enough.

Two months ago, the Health Department sent GPs a report on how many local toddlers were not immunised. Poorly immunised suburbs included Osborne Park, Fremantle, Parkerville, Stoneville and Mosman Park.

The Strive for 95 campaign aims to lift immunisation from as low as 63 per cent in some areas to 95 per cent because so-called herd immunity needs to be that high to protect vulnerable children, such as those who cannot be immunised or are too young.

Dr Gannon said though he fully supported the campaign, it was time to up the ante with complacent parents.

He wants special vaccination caravans at shopping centres and popular venues in low vaccination suburbs to try to immunise families when they are there.

"The rates in remote communities in the Kimberley are actually very good but we've got hotspots in the city where rates are below 75 per cent," he said.

"We might need to look at a vaccination caravan or bus to carpet-bomb these problem areas."

News break - August 21

The West Australian

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