The Sunshine Coast has long had the dubious reputation of being an anti-vax capital, with one of the lowest childhood vaccination rates in Australia, but that appears to be changing. The latest childhood immunisation figures from the December 2020 quarter show more parents are having their young children inoculated, with most areas of the Coast improving.
The higher vaccination rates were especially noticeable in the one-year age group during the year of the pandemic when most areas of the Coast achieved at least 90 per cent coverage. The Sunshine Coast historically lagged behind the rest of the country when it came to vaccinating babies and toddlers, especially in hinterland areas where rates were as low as 84.4 per cent just five years ago.
The Gold Coast hinterland now holds the crown of having Queensland’s lowest vaccination rates, while the area around Mullumbimby in northern New South Wales is among the worst in Australia.
The Sunshine Coast vaccination coverage is still not as high as the 95 per cent required for herd immunity against diseases like measles, which has been achieved in many other parts of Queensland. But compared with five years ago, the Coast has inreased markedly and the rates rose further again during the year of the coronavirus in 2020. However, Noosa, perceived as an affluent area that would not be expected to have low vaccination rates, showed much less increase.
Australian Medical Association Sunshine Coast branch president Dr Roger Faint says the Coast’s vaccination rates of around 90 per cent are “very healthy”.
Dr Faint says the increased awareness of disease and the importance of vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic may have made parents more conscious.
– For more news go to sunshinecoastnews.com.au.