Free measles catch up vaccinations available from next week

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Health

Free measles catch up vaccinations will be available for eligible Tasmanians from GPs next week, before being rolled out to pharmacies in coming weeks following completion of an approved training program.

As was flagged earlier this year, Tasmanians born during or after 1966 who have not received two measles-containing vaccinations, or had the measles infection, are eligible for a free vaccination. Infants aged 6 to 12 months who are travelling overseas to places where measles is circulating are also eligible.

Public Health experts advise that people born before 1966 are likely to be immune following childhood infection. Most people born after 1994 are likely to have received two doses of measles containing vaccines as a child, under the National Immunisation Program.

Many people born between 1966 and 1994 will not have had measles or received two doses of a measles vaccine, which means up to 15 per cent of these Tasmanians may not be immune.

Due to fragmented childhood immunisation records for many people, anyone who is unsure of their vaccination status is encouraged to receive a booster dose of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Measles is a highly infectious disease, which remains endemic in some countries. This means there is ongoing risk of imported cases from overseas visitors, as well as Australians returning home.

Having pharmacists administer vaccinations will help to improve access for Tasmanians, particularly in regional areas.

The Hodgman majority Liberal Government is committed to protecting Tasmanians, and we have had huge success in our vaccination programs. Our meningococcal vaccination program last year, for example, saw record child immunisation rates in Tasmania, and our public campaigns to encourage Tasmanians to receive a flu shot have been highly successful.

The Report on Government Services released in January this year also confirmed Tasmania is in the top three states nationally for each age cohort with respect to childhood vaccinations, including the best result in Australia for ages 60 to 63 months, rising to 95.5 per cent.

Tasmania this year also became the first state in Australia to allow children aged 10 and over to receive low-cost flu shots in many pharmacies.

/Public Release. View in full here.