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Thursday, 24 January 2002

Reminder to Immunise Children before School Starts

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

Immunisation is an important part of a child's health regimen and should be administered before children begin school or pre-school 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).

Working with children and parents, the Head of Immunology at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick, Prof. John Ziegler 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. There is no need for children to suffer the consequences of sometimes fatal diseases - diseases for which we have vaccines.'

'This is an ongoing awareness and educational process. Often we just need to remind parents how important this issue is,' Prof. Ziegler said.

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. While a child's record does not have to prove a child is immunised it must indicate that a child has not had a disease, which is preventable by vaccination. Of course, government funding of most vaccines (and all the routine ones) has been an important factor as well.

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.

'While the consequences of not immunising your child can be drastic, the relative ease and accessibility associated with the process means that no child should not be vaccinated, ' Prof. Ziegler added.

For Further Information Contact:

Danielle Huck, Public Affairs Tel: 9382 3578 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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