Lifting the immunisation rate

The Herald reports:

Parliament’s health committee is considering whether parents should be offered cash incentives to have their children immunised, or even have benefits withheld if they don’t without good reason.

Committee members were in Canberra last week looking at several issues including how Australia had dramatically improved its childhood immunisation rates and will report to Parliament on its trip.

Chairman and National MP Paul Hutchison said 91 per cent of Australian 2-year-olds were now fully immunised against little more than 50 per cent 10 years ago. In New Zealand the rate is about 75 to 80 per cent.

That is an impressive increase in Australia. The rate in NZ is highly variable. Probably close to 100% in some areas, and under 50% in others.

Australia’s success had been been achieved with a seven point plan, including some measures such as a childhood immunisation register which is already in place here.

However, Dr Hutchison said he was particularly impressed with the effectiveness of cash incentives for families and health professionals in increasing immunisation rates.

Parents of 18-month-olds who had received all required shots received a A$125 ($163) cash payment. Another payment was made to parents of fully immunised 4-year-olds.

Other measures included requirements at some schools and pre-schools for children to be fully immunised before they could be enrolled.

I instinctively don’t like the idea of paying parents to do something they should do anyway, but you know if it works, it would be worth it for the savings in health.

However what would be good is some research into what has most contributed to the lift in rates in Australia – is it the cash payments or is it the requirement in some schools to be immunised to enrol?

Comments (48)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment