As South Australian families get back into the swing of another school year, parents are reminded to take advantage of the free vaccines available to Year 8 and Year 10 students.
The Department for Health and Wellbeing Communicable Disease Control Branch Director, Louise Flood, said students are offered free vaccines through SA Health’s School Immunisation Program.
“We know settling into the school year ahead is a busy time for families, and that is why we are reminding all parents to help protect their kids against harmful diseases by getting them immunised,” Flood says.
“Vaccines are our number one defence against infectious diseases such as whooping cough and meningococcal disease and immunisations are a simple, safe and highly effective way to protect people in the community.”
Flood says vaccines have significantly decreased cases of common childhood diseases, such as meningococcal disease.
“Since the introduction of the meningococcal B vaccine in 2018, cases have dropped by 86 per cent with only three cases reported last year compared to 22 cases in 2016,” Flood says.
“While less international travel, physical distancing measures and improved hand hygiene practices likely reflect the drop in lower cases last year due to COVID-19, it is important we continue to do everything we can to protect ourselves and stop the spread.”
In the last five years, the number of all meningococcal cases reported in SA has dropped by 81 per cent, particularly since the ACWY vaccine was added to the School Immunisation Program in 2019.
“This shows us just how important it is for children to complete the full recommended course or schedule of vaccinations at the recommended times so they are fully protected against harmful diseases,” Flood says.
As part of the program, immunisation consent packs will be distributed to all Year 8 and Year 10 students in the next few weeks, with information on relevant diseases and consent cards for parents to complete and return.
“We know approximately 81 per cent of children in year 8 and 78 per cent in year 10 received at least one dosage of vaccination at school last year, and we want to protect even more children this year by increasing these rates,” Flood says.
“If your child is eligible and has missed a vaccination, they can still receive their free vaccine under the School Immunisation Program to ensure they don’t miss out.”
Parents can check if their child has received their recommended vaccines by speaking with their GP, immunisation provider or accessing their child’s records from their Medicare online account through myGov to see if they are on track and up to date.
Under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), students in Year 8 are offered free vaccines to protect them from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), and human papillomavirus (HPV). Students in Year 10 are offered free vaccines for both meningococcal ACWY, which is part of the NIP, and meningococcal B, which is state funded.
For more information visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/schoolimmunisationprogram.