Tue, 26/11/2019 | News

New NCIRS report - Annual Immunisation Coverage 2018

NCIRS has released the Annual Immunisation Coverage Report for 2018. This report shows immunisation rates across the country are continuing to improve, with rates for some vaccines surpassing the national target of 95%.

The report examines Australian Immunisation Register data for children under the age of 5 years, focusing on changes in immunisation coverage at key milestone ages (12, 24 and 60 months) between 2017 and 2018. The report shows ‘fully vaccinated’ coverage in 2018 increased at the 12- and 60-month milestones to 93.9% and 94.0%, respectively.

Immunisation rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are improving too, with their ‘fully vaccinated’ coverage at 60 months of age higher than that for non-Indigenous children.

Dr Frank Beard, Associate Director Coverage, Evaluation, Surveillance and Social Science at NCIRS, said, “while overall vaccination coverage is good, the report identified that some children aren’t getting required vaccines on time, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and those from remote and socioeconomically disadvantaged areas”.

Fully vaccinated coverage for all children in 2018 was 90.1% at 24 months of age but was much lower when assessed at 21 months of age (85.5%), indicating a timeliness issue for vaccines due at 18 months of age.

The ‘fully vaccinated’ coverage at 21 months of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children residing in remote areas (72.2%) was lower than those living in urban areas (81.6%).

Children in the least advantaged residential areas had lower coverage at the 21-month milestone (83%) than those in the most advantaged areas (87.2%).

Coverage of measles-containing vaccines was also analysed in the report. In 2018, two-dose coverage of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)–containing vaccine at 60 months of age was above the national target of 95% at 96.3%. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, two-dose coverage of MMR-containing vaccine at 60 months of age was 98.5%.

However, timeliness of the second dose of MMR-containing vaccine was suboptimal, with only 93% coverage for the two doses of MMR-containing vaccine when assessed at 24 months of age. The coverage improved to 96.3% by 60 months of age, indicating catch-up vaccination is occurring.

“Timeliness of measles vaccination at 18 months of age is important to ensure protection, as while Australia has eliminated the local spread of measles, outbreaks continue to occur linked to overseas travellers,” said Dr Beard.

There are also improvements in coverage of other individual vaccines. Influenza vaccine coverage for all children increased remarkably in 2018, with the coverage more than doubling among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and increasing 5-fold among non-Indigenous children. Additionally, vaccination coverage for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, varicella and meningococcal C was above 95% in 2018 and for the first time, rotavirus vaccination coverage was above 90%.

The full report is accompanied by a summary report, which presents key findings from the Annual Immunisation Coverage Report 2018.

Click here to view the reports