Peter McIntyre, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Kids Research Institute and University of Sydney.
Kristine Macartney, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Kids Research Institute and University of Sydney.
Julie Leask, University of Sydney.
Australia’s approach to improving low childhood vaccine coverage began with the “Immunise Australia” campaign launched by then Health Minister Wooldridge in 1997. A unique element was linkage of eligibility for social security payments to immunisation status, beginning in 1998 with eligibility for a single $200 payment, later escalated to include child care rebates, and in 2012 other family payments. Immunise Australia included other initiatives, such as incentives for general practitioners (GPs) to give and report vaccines and the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR), making it difficult to disentangle effects on uptake – an early study suggested linkage to child care payments was influential. Reported coverage for all vaccines included in the fully funded National Immunisation Program has been stable at around 92% since 2002, but is persistently up to 20% lower in small geographic areas. In 2013, reports of coverage down to postcode level were made publicly available for the first time. This created intense media interest, with one dominant theme being low coverage in more affluent areas, leading to “no jab, no play” – a newspaper campaign to allow childcare centres to ban unvaccinated children and for the federal government to stop paying family assistance payments to vaccine refusers. more…