What is the problem?
Immunisation is a safe and effective way to prevent serious childhood disease. Deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have dropped by 99% in Australia since vaccination was introduced in 1932 and internationally, it is estimated that vaccination prevents upwards of 3 million deaths each year.
For immunisation to be most effective, a sufficient number of people need to be vaccinated to interrupt the transmission of bacteria and viruses from person to person (called herd immunity or community immunity). For most diseases, the vaccination rate of the population needs to be around 90%, though for highly infectious diseases, like measles, it rises to 95%.
While most children are fully immunised in Australia, areas of low coverage persist. Low vaccination rates are not necessarily due to anti-vaccination ideology, but can occur for a range of reasons often closely linked to socioeconomic adversity and logistical barriers. These barriers are more common in rural communities.
About the research translation program
The aim of this project is to expand the use of Tailoring Immunisation Programs (TIP) in four NSW Local Health Districts to identify pockets of low childhood immunisation coverage, gain a deeper understanding of underlying reasons and identify and implement mitigating strategies.
These strategies will be based on behaviour change theory which recognises capacity, motivation and opportunity as important and necessary drivers of change. Tailored strategies are much more likely to be effective as they systematically diagnose and address inequities and entrenched disparities within our heath service delivery models.
TIP involves a primary care collaboration – between population health, community health, child and family health, primary health networks, Aboriginal health, multi-cultural health and other community organisations.
What will be the impact?
It is envisaged that implementation of TIP will increase vaccination rates, thereby preventing serious childhood disease and strengthening community resilience. Improving access to immunisation will also facilitate access to other preventative services including early detection and treatment of developmental concerns.
The evidence generated from this project will inform effective immunisation policy and practice at the local, state and national level, suggesting effective ways of improving coverage in target populations.
For more information, contact Paul Corben – Paul.Corben@health.nsw.gov.au