Iain Curry

Dr Google leading many astray on vaccination: Minister

AUSTRALIA'S health minister has condemned the amount of misinformation around vaccination, including so-called links between autism and immunisation.

 Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said GPs and parents would be provided with the latest scientific information through the release of an updated booklet, Immunisation Myths and Realities.

"As a mother of three, I am a strong supporter of immunisation and my children are fully immunised," said Ms Plibersek.

"Vaccination has been repeatedly demonstrated to be one of the most effective public health measures at our disposal and saves an estimated three million lives around the world each year."

Ms Plibersek said there was a lot of misinformation around about the safety of vaccination.

For example, allegations of a link between autism and immunisation have been completely disproved.

"Dr Google has been a negative influence in this debate. Instead of giving credence to thoroughly disproved theories, parents should read about the myths and realities of vaccination in this booklet and talk to their GP."

Ms Plibersek said no vaccine or medicine can be completely guaranteed to be without side-effects, but these are infrequent and mainly very mild.

The benefit of the vaccine in terms of reducing illness and death far outweighs this small risk.

In Australia vaccines must pass stringent safety testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the safety of vaccines is continually monitored once they are in use.

Ms Plibersek said the latest edition of the Immunisation Myths and Realities booklet responds to some of the common myths and concerns that health professionals encounter when discussing vaccinations with parents or
patients.

A report by the National Health Performance Authority on Immunisation rates for children in 2011-12 found that Australia is achieving high immunisation rates at the national level, achieving at or above 90 per cent average
coverage for children at one, two and five years of age.

"While rates of vaccination are high there are pockets of lower than average cover, indicating some children are at a higher risk of contracting diseases such as measles and whooping cough."

To view the Immunisation Myths and Realities booklet see the Immunise Australia Program website www.immunise.health.gov.au



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