New jab at anti-vaxxers

In­for­ma­tion cam­paign aimed at post­codes in vac­ci­na­tion dan­ger

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JANE HANSEN HEALTH RE­PORTER

POST­CODES with low vac­ci­na­tion rates will be “mi­cro­tar­geted” in a new move to di­rectly fight anti-vaxxer lies.

The sec­ond phase of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s $5.5 mil­lion ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign will tar­get par­ents in sub­urbs with low im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates such as Mos­man, North Syd­ney, Manly, Pittwa­ter, Mona Vale, Kings­ford, Rand­wick and Rose Bay, as well as the no­to­ri­ous anti-vax hot spots in north­ern NSW such as Nim­bin, Mul­lumbimby and By­ron Bay.

The sub­urbs were iden­ti­fied af­ter Health Depart­ment an­a­lysed De­cem­ber 2017 Aus­tralian Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Regis­ter data for the lo­cal ar­eas in each of the three re­port­ing age groups — ages one, two and five years.

The six-week cam­paign will use so­cial me­dia plat­forms and on­line search op­ti­mi­sa­tion to “mi­cro-tar­get” par­ents who have failed to vac­ci­nate, de­liv­er­ing ev­i­denced-based in­for­ma­tion and videos through so­cial me­dia such as Face­book.

These post­codes all have vac­ci­na­tion rates sub­stan­tially be­low the cur­rent na­tional av­er­age of 94 per cent.

“It is these ar­eas of low cov­er­age which pose risks to the com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially to peo­ple who can’t be vac­ci­nated, like new­borns and those with med­i­cal rea­sons,” fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said. “The sci­ence is in and the med­i­cal ex­perts’ ad­vice is ab­so­lute — vac­ci­na­tions save lives and pro­tect lives and they are an es­sen­tial part of a healthy so­ci­ety.”

Aus­tralia’s Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Pro­fes­sor Bren­dan Mur­phy said ag­gres­sively an­ti­vac­ci­na­tion groups, which amount to less than 2 per cent, were not the tar­get. In­stead it would be for those who were hes­i­tant, or fear­ful.

“We are talk­ing the 10 to 12 per cent who are fed mis­in­for­ma­tion. They are young par­ents with a nat­u­ral ther­a­pies in­cli­na­tion, into the or­ganic and whole­some and they are fed false and in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion,” Prof Mur­phy said.

De­spite vac­ci­na­tion rates ris­ing over the past few years to a new na­tional rate of 94 per cent, pock­ets be­low 90 per cent need to be ad­dressed.

“We have to work re­ally hard to get to those last few per­cent­ages. We won’t just tell these par­ents to go get your kids vac­ci­nated, we want them to go to this highly in­for­ma­tive web­site and we will give you all the sci­en­tific facts,” Prof Mur­phy said.

The first phase of the Get The Facts On Im­mu­ni­sa­tion cam­paign, launched last year, fea­tured videos of Greg and Cather­ine Hughes and Toni and Dave McCaffery, who shared their sto­ries of the loss of their ba­bies to whoop­ing cough. “I hope we have helped in­form par­ents and pro­tect them from de­cep­tive and mis­lead­ing sites that mas­quer­ade as ex­perts but are any­thing but,” Mrs McCaffery said.

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