Message from GPs to Parents: Don’t Be Complacent About Children’s Immunisations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Media Release

Parents across the region are urged to ensure children remain up-to-date with their immunisations during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) Acting CEO, Tony Ficca, said parents must be vigilant and make sure children still received their immunisations when they were due.

“With the community still in ‘Stage 3’ lockdown, there are concerns parents aren’t taking their children to see the doctor for routine vaccinations due to fear of COVID-19 exposure,” said Mr Ficca.

“It is imperative that children are kept safe from the risk of contracting other, serious diseases which are easily prevented as part of the National Immunisation Schedule,” he said.

Ballarat GP and WVPHN clinical spokesperson Dr Amy Litras said it was still safe for children to visit the family GP. “Children should visit their GP when they need too, including for immunisations. General practices across the country have been working hard to introduce policies and procedures to keep their patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Torquay GP and WVPHN clinical spokesperson Dr Anne Stephenson added to this, saying that now more than ever it is important to get your children immunised to prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in the community. “General Practices have taken measures to ensure that the community is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is vital that the community follow individual general practice’s instructions at his time.”

Latest statistics show Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) has the highest childhood immunisation coverage rates of all PHNs in Australia.

Data from December 2019 showed that western Victoria led the country for children aged 12 to 15 months (96.52 per cent) and 24 to 27 months (94.87 per cent, up from 94.71 per cent in September). The exceptional numbers continued with 97.16 per cent of children aged 60 to 63 months (five years of age) fully immunised.

“Parents are encouraged to ensure their children receive routine vaccinations, especially now that school-implemented immunisation programs may be compromised in the current home-schooling environment. If a parent has questions about which vaccines their child should be receiving they should speak to their GP,” said Mr Ficca.

“Let’s continue to set the example and lead the country in childhood immunisation rates.”

Dr Litras said: “I urge parents not to delay their children’s immunisations due to COVID-19. We don’t know how long the current social distancing measures will remain in place and every day a child’s immunisations are delayed, it is another day they are at risk from a vaccine-preventable infectious disease.”