Busting the myths of immunisation for better health

While vaccination remains one of the most successful and cost-effective advances in global public health preventing approximately two million deaths every year, some parents continue to delay or refuse to have their child or children vaccinated for conditions such as measles, whooping cough and diphtheria.

To help reassure parents of young children, WA Primary Health Alliance has launched an immunisation myths campaign, featuring a series of short videos debunking some of the myths around vaccinations and encouraging parents to seek further advice from their GP.

While the reasons can vary widely from parent to parent, the campaign examines the five most common reasons parents cite when asked why they haven’t vaccinated their child.

This includes the myths that:

  • vaccines aren’t safe
  • vaccines cause autism
  • alternative therapies are a safer option than vaccines
  • infant immune systems can’t handle numerous vaccines
  • vaccinations aren’t necessary if everybody follows proper hygiene and sanitation

Each message concludes by prompting those with lingering concerns or questions to discuss them with their GP.

With a long and demonstrated history in the hospital and health care industry, WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager Bernadette Kenny understands the impact a health professional’s advice can have on an unsure parent.

“While we know most children should be vaccinated in line with the Immunisation Schedule, Western Australia is below the national average for coverage rates in one, two and five-year-olds,” she said.

“GPs have a pivotal role in communicating with parents regarding childhood vaccinations and in providing clear, evidence-based vaccine information to help guide parents’ decision-making.”

“This campaign has been designed to encourage parents and carers of young children to ask their GP for further information if they have concerns regarding vaccination.”

“Education and communication with parents will improve their knowledge and trust in vaccination, thereby improving vaccination compliance.”

“We are also encouraging general practice to use the Australian Government Department of Health’s messages to talk to parents who may be hesitant about having their child vaccinated.”

In addition to the campaign, WA Primary Health Alliance has recently launched an immunisation quality improvement tool for general practice.

“Our practice support team are actively working with practices to help them use their data to identify the number of children with overdue immunisations, and recall them so they can play their part in increasing the overall rate of childhood immunisation in WA,” Ms Kenny said.

“I would also like to acknowledge Brisbane North PHN, whose Medical Mums campaign provided the inspiration for our Immunisation Myths campaign. This is a great example of PHNs working together to provide support for general practice and the community.”

Find out more about the campaign and watch the videos.

General practices can find out more about the support we can provide them with childhood immunisation on our Practice Assist website.

This activity has been made possible through funding provided by the Australian Government under the PHN Program.