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Thursday, 6 February 2003

Immunisation reminder for New School Year

Immunology and Infectious Disease specialists at the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick are reminding parents to immunise their children now that the school year has begun.

Immunisation is an important part of a child's health regimen and should be administered at the beginning of the school or pre-school year to increase their protection against preventable diseases.

Children at the school entry level should receive boosters for measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-tetanus-whooping cough and polio. Some parents may opt to add the vaccines against chickenpox and pneumococcus (a germ which causes pneumonia and meningitis).

Every time your child has an infection, the body produces special proteins called antibodies to fight that infection. Immunisation stimulates the body to produce antibodies. The antibodies can survive for a long time, even a lifetime. So your child builds up resistance to the virus or bacteria which caused the infection in the first place.

Working with children and parents, Infectious Diseases Specialist at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick, Dr Pamela Palasanthiran is reminded constantly of the important responsibility which parents have in immunising their child.

'It is essential parents protect their children from diseases which can be prevented. This means that children do not have to suffer an otherwise preventable illness and some of the potential complications'.

'This is an ongoing awareness and educational process. Sometimes we need to remind parents how important this issue is,' Dr Palasanthiran said.

Since the introduction of childhood immunisation in Australia, childhood diseases such as measles, tetanus and diptheria have almost been wiped out and whooping cough is not seen in epidemic proportions. However, if immunisation rates go down, children and the community could be at risk.

Initiatives to improve immunisation rates include the establishment of the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register and school entry legislation requiring parents to provide official immunisation records.
Children can be immunised by general practitioners, at local council services, immunisation clinics, some hospitals including the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

More information regarding immunisation is available in a Commonwealth Government brochure, 'Understanding Childhood Immunisation' and can be obtained by calling 1800 671 811.

'The accessibility and support systems in place associated with immunising your child means that protecting your child against common childhood illnesses and their consequences by vaccination is an easy process. As prevention is better than cure, all children's vaccinations should be up to date to ensure continued good health' Dr Palasanthiran added.

For Further Information Contact:

Catharina Boer, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842



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