Immunisation rates stay high

A NEW report has shown Tasmania maintained its very high immunisation rate among young children last financial year, punching above the national average.

However, the state's rate of immunisation against human papillomavirus (HPV) for 15-year-old girls was among the lowest in the country.

According to the National Health Performance Authority's report on immunisation rates in 2012-13, 92.2 per cent of Tasmanian children were immunised at one year, 94.3 per cent at two years and 92.9 per cent at five years.

Of Tasmanian children aged up to five, 291 had a conscientious objection to immunisation recorded by their parents.

Tasmania Medicare Local's director of population health programs Susan Powell said these rates were at a level that helped keep most communicable diseases at bay.

Of Medicare Local catchments, Tasmania had the second-lowest rate of HPV immunisation among girls who turned 15 in 2012 (60 per cent), with Victoria's Great South Coast recording the highest at 92 per cent.

Population Health senior medical advisor Mark Veitch said the result was concerning, with HPV infection a cause of cervical, anal and vaginal cancer in women, anal and penile cancer in men, and genital warts in both.

"This report is a timely reminder to Tasmanian parents of year seven girls and boys and year nine boys to fill out consent forms to ensure their children take part in the school HPV vaccination program in 2014," Dr Veitch said.

He said the three-dose course was free at school but could cost more than $400 if parents missed the opportunity and had to buy the vaccine privately.

For more information about HPV vaccination visit www.hpvvaccine.org.au.

For more information about school-based immunisation program and free council catch- up doses visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/immunisation/school-based-immunisation-program.

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