What’s stopping Australian parents immunising their children?

One in 10 Australian infants are not up-to-date with their immunisations and Adelaide researchers decided to delve into the data of thousands of children to find out why. And the results are surprising.

New research from the University of Adelaide has uncovered that infants from poorer backgrounds are the ones at greatest risk of not being fully immunised – not those with parents who are conscious objectors.

The researchers discovered that while 91 per cent of Australian infants are up-to-date with immunisations, children with socio-economically disadvantaged parents were more likely not to be fully immunised.

Associate Professor Helen Marshall outlines that this is the first Australia-wide study highlighting that social disadvantage has a greater impact on immunisation rates than the anti-vax movement. While 9.3 per cent of children are partially, or not immunised, only one in six of those had parents who disagreed with immunisation.

“So the majority of infants who were incompletely immunised had parents who do not object to immunisation – something else is getting in the way,” she says.

Associate Professor Marshall says the main barriers to immunisation include:

  • Minimal contact with, and access to services.
  • Being a single parent.
  • Children living in a large household.

“Socio-economic disadvantage was an important reason why parents had children who were either partially immunised or not immunised at all,” says Associate Professor Marshall.

The research also found that children with chronic medical conditions were also more likely not to be up-to-date with their immunisations.

“This is possibly due to parents and health care providers having a lack of knowledge about additional vaccines that are recommended for children with certain medical conditions or concerns vaccines may have adverse effects in these children,” Associate Professor Marshall says.

She says the findings can be used as a basis for programs to help these families access immunisation.

“This research found that the majority of parents with partially immunised children are in favour of vaccinations, so we need to look at how we can remove the barriers experienced by these families.”

To find out what immunisations your child should have and when, take a look at the federal government’s National Immunisation Program Schedule.

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