Tasmanian Labor recklessly undermines Public Health advice

Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Health

Tasmanian Labor’s shadow health minister has recklessly undermined Public Health advice with a release that is not only illogical, but it’s factually incorrect.

Tasmania is leading the nation when it comes to vaccinating our 5–11-year-olds with 44 per cent of eligible children now having received their first dose.

With enough doses and appointments available for every child to be vaccinated ahead of the school year beginning, we are pulling out all stops to get Tasmanian parents to book their children in now.

Ultimately, the decision to come forward rightly sits with the parents of each child. Is Ms Dow suggesting that we make the vaccine mandatory? It sounds like it.

While Ms Dow may try to twist the current ATAGI advice to suit her narrative, the advice is actually as follows:

The recommended schedule for vaccination in this age group is 2 doses, 8 weeks apart. The interval can be shortened in special circumstances to a minimum of 3 weeks, such as in an outbreak response, prior to the initiation of significant immunosuppression or international travel.”

If Ms Dow’s claim that the first dose take-up is low – which in comparison to the national average of 28 per cent, it is not – how is it going to improve the vaccination rate to divert resources away from the first dose vaccinations to bringing forward the second dose?

ATAGI advice has been clear: 8 weeks is the ideal period and gives the most effective immunisation.

The circumstances that would lead to bringing forward the second dose should only be considered in very limited circumstances, with examples given by ATAGI stating, ‘prior to immunosuppression (such as treatment for cancer) or during an outbreak or international travel.

There is no significant outbreak currently justifying bringing forward dose 2.

Any decision about bringing forward a second dose needs to be made in consultation with the treating medical team and not by the State Government.

Finally, as Dr Veitch has stated numerous times, we have the capacity within the state system to have every one of our 45,000 children vaccinated by a nurse with experience in vaccinating children and this is being well served. Many GPs are also vaccinating children across the State.

Pharmacies have made a really important contribution to the primary vaccination of teenagers and adults, and at the moment we need our pharmacies, to concentrate on the 150,000-200,000 booster vaccinations that are needed over the next few months.

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