Sarah Discher, pictured with son Lachlan, supports childhood vaccination.
Sarah Discher, pictured with son Lachlan, supports childhood vaccination. Renee Pilcher

Region embraces the jab

PARENTS can rest easy knowing Gympie is leading the way in childhood immunisations rates for the region.

A recent Healthy Communities report released by the National Health Performance Authority, said Gympie childhood immunisation rates were among the highest in the Sunshine Coast and Gympie regions.

The rate for all age groups in Gympie is above 90%, which is the benchmark for providing group immunity against diseases such as measles, whooping cough and chickenpox.

Gympie pharmacist and mother of two Sarah Discher supports childhood immunisation and said it was great to know the Gympie people were supportive of protecting the community.

"Immunisations not only reduce the risk of my own children contracting diseases but it covers the wider community," she said.

"I'm mainly thinking about vulnerable little babies who are too young to vaccinate, so by me vaccinating my children, I'm not only protecting them, but protecting those little babies as well."

The latest Gympie figures shine in a region remaining among the lowest in the country, mainly due to a few pockets of very low immunisation including Maleny (which gets down as low as 67.7%), Mooloolah, Pomona, Noosa Heads and Eumundi.

Sunshine Coast Medicare Local deputy CEO Pattie Hudson said the Gympie community was very fortunate to have established GPs and practice nurses in the area who are very supportive of immunisation, and who could develop strong relationships of trust with their patients.

Mrs Discher - who said she makes environmentally aware lifestyle choices for her family such as following an organic diet and riding bikes as a form of transport - has no doubt about the safety of vaccinating children.

"I'm definitely a person who doesn't just believe what I read; I do my research," she said.

"There's a lot of information that I find frustrating.

"It would be quite easy to make a decision not to vaccinate based on that misinformation.

"We don't see people dying and suffering from these diseases in this day and age, but what concerns me is if the vaccination rate starts to lower then that puts the entire community at risk."

The report shows immunisation rates across the country are stabilising with only 13 catchments with immunisation rates of less than 90% compared to 23 catchments identified in the 2011-12 report.