Immunisation helps protect individuals and the community generally against potentially serious diseases such as measles, polio, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis). Although the great majority of children in Australia are immunised, it is important to maintain high immunisation rates to reduce the risk of outbreaks of these and other diseases recurring.

The second childhood immunisation rates report from the National Health Performance Authority finds the biggest improvements in immunisation rates were seen across five-year-old children, the age when they should have completed their childhood immunisations.

The report shows the percentages of children who were fully immunised at 1 year, 2 years and 5 years in each of the 61 Medicare Local catchments, and where possible the results are broken down into smaller geographic areas – more than 300 statistical areas and more than 1,500 postcodes. Also reported are the numbers of children in each area who are not fully immunised.

For the first time, new data on the percentages of girls aged 15 years fully immunised against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus known to cause cervical cancer, are also available by Medicare Local catchment.

The report finds:

  • The national rate for five-year-old children increased from 90.0% in 2011–12 to 91.5% in 2012–13
  • The number of children not fully immunised lowered by nearly 2,000 compared to the previous year (75,002 in 2012–13 compared to 76,769 in 2011–12)
  • The rate of HPV immunisation ranged from 59% in Country North SA and Eastern Sydney up to 92% in Great South Coast (Vic) Medicare Local catchments.

Australian governments and experts endorse achieving high immunisation rates to protect individuals and those not immunised or too young to be immunised. States and territories are expected to maintain or improve their existing respective immunisation rates under the terms of the National Partnership Agreement on Essential Vaccines agreed in 2009.