New jab at anti-vaxxers
Information campaign aimed at postcodes in vaccination danger
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.