THE state’s top doctor has taken the extraordinary step of writing to the parents of more than 13,000 children to ram home the warnings about the state’s measles outbreak.
With help from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has identified 13,117 Queensland children aged between four and six who have missed scheduled vaccinations, and written to their families to urge them to immunise their children.
“With a measles outbreak, it is imperative as many people as possible are vaccinated,” Dr Young said.
“Immunisation is the most effective way to prevent measles and two doses of measles vaccine are needed to provide a high level of protection.”
Dr Young said most areas of Queensland had 90 per cent of children fully vaccinated, with the Torres Strait and Cape York regions having the highest rates of immunisation.
“While 90 per cent vaccinated sounds good, it is important to remember that leaves up to 10 per cent of children who aren’t properly protected against measles,” she said.
The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions are below national rates, with more than one in 10 children either not immunised at all, or missing some of their scheduled vaccinations.
Dr Young said this was the first time she had used the Australian Childhood Immunisation Registry to approach parents and urge them to vaccinate their children.
She said she would continue to work with registry staff to identify Queensland children younger than four who were not adequately vaccinated, and planned to write to contact their families as well.
Some patients with the virus develop pneumonia and encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.
“Around one-third of adults who contract it require hospitalisation,” she said.
Early symptoms can include runny nose, cough, red eyes, aches and pains, and a fever.
“If you have these symptoms, even if you don’t have a rash, you may have measles,” Dr Young said.
She said people who believed they may have the highly contagious infection should seek medical advice.