Concerns grow at plummeting rates of child immunisation

A child after receiving a vaccination

Kiwi kids are the most vulnerable they’ve been since vaccination records began.

That’s the warning from a children’s doctor, as childhood immunisation rates continue to plummet across the board.

In the last four years, the number of six-month-old babies fully immunised has dropped by around 10%. By 18 months, that gap has widened to almost 17%.

“I suppose I couldn’t be more concerned,” says paediatrician Owen Sinclair.

It comes after it was revealed two babies, neither a year old, had died from whooping cough this year. Measles is also a concern.

“These are the lowest rates that have ever been recorded since we started recording rates in 2009," he says.

Immunisation rates dropped off significantly during the pandemic – experts say they haven’t picked back up and the current system isn’t working.

“We need the resourcing to do it,” says vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris. “We need to be able to communicate really well with people, help them understand why this is important.”

Sinclair says the current immunisation process is too complex, especially for low income and vulnerable families.

“So you need to have an address, you need to have a phone, you need to register with a GP, you need to be able to receive communications and then you have to have transport to get thereat a time when the GP is open.”


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