WHO declares Australia as Rubella free
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently declared that Rubella, a highly contagious viral disease that can result in miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects, has been eliminated across Australia. The country’s national immunisation programme had been essential in eliminating the disease. The programme provides free vaccination for protection against rubella for children aged 12 months, with a booster given at 18 months. Nationwide immunisation rates for five-year-olds is now 94.62 per cent, the highest figure on record. Australia has had rolling epidemics of rubella, the largest number of cases were reported in 1958, with more than 5,000 notified cases; in 1963-64, with more than 3,000 notified cases; and in the early 1990s, with more than 4,000 notified cases. More than 30 countries have now eliminated rubella, with “eliminated” status declared once there has been no endemic transmission for at least 36 months. Sweden, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Lithuania, Montenegro and Uzbekistan are among those countries to have already reached elimination status.