Decreasing Rates of Immunization in Australia
Immunisation is whereby an individual, through a process, is made resistant to an infectious illness through administering them with a vaccine. These body’s immune is stimulated by the vaccines to provide protection against any future disease or infection quickly. It has been proven that when people get immunized it can act as a way to eliminate and control infectious illnesses which are life-threatening (World Health Organization, 2018). The reason why people get immunized is to ensure individuals do not get infections and also are protected from the short and long term complications like cancer as a result of these infections. There are nine diseases which are routinely immunized against from childhood and they include; diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, rubella, mumps, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis b and measles (Quinn and McIntyre 2011, pp. 670). The rates of immunization in Australia keep on decreasing which shows it is a current health issue but there are strategies in place which helps the rates in the country to increase. These strategies have both barriers and enablers in their implementations. Nurses play a role in implementing the strategies which ensure rates of immunization goes up.
Even though it is quite important for children to get immunized for this variety of reasons, the rates of children actually getting immunized are decreasing in Australia. According to Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), children in the country are falling behind on their immunization. The rates of children being immunized have dropped by 2% from 2008. ARACY stated that the percentage of two-year-old children who are fully vaccinated stands at 90.5% which is below Australia’s target of it being at 95% and above. The rates of immunization in some parts of the country still remain too low and they also do not meet their set targets for immunizations. Also, the rates of older people getting immunized are quite low in the country with it being at 50 to 60 percent. Therefore this shows it is not only the young ones whose rates of immunization are going down but also the aging (Atkinson, Wolfe and Hamborsky 2011).
The decreasing rates of immunization is a contemporary health issue in Australia for different reasons. The benefits of immunizing individuals in our communities against diseases and therefore prevent them from getting infected far outweigh the risks associated with the vaccination. Most people want to see the benefits to believe and they do not see this because one cannot know the number of times that their children have used their immunity against the preventable diseases they may be exposed to (Menzies, Turnour, Chiu and McIntyre 2008, pp. 65). Therefore because of such doubts, it has led to many people questioning if it is really vital to vaccinate their children, therefore, the rates of those getting immunized is continually dropping. It becomes a health issue in that when there is no herd immunity, this is where Australians reach or surpass the target of 95% and above being immunized, it will lead to the spread of preventable diseases. When these rates continue to drop, it increases the risk of these diseases spreading across the population who have not been vaccinated against it. Therefore diseases which before were on the brink of being eliminated are now becoming more common as a result for example rubella and mumps (Gidding at.al 2016, pp.200).
When these preventable diseases start spreading because the immunizations programs have been compromised, it leads to increased mortality rates as a result. When more and more people are dying due to these preventable diseases, it leads to a strain on the healthcare system which was designed more to prevent these diseases and less to handle outbreaks of them. It leads to unnecessary deaths as a result. This decrease in the rates of immunization should be targeted because it is quite essential for more efforts to eliminate these diseases which can be and this can be realized through immunization. It is quite sad when individuals die from preventable diseases, therefore, the Australian government should put more effort into the strategies that are in place to increase the rates of immunization (Smith et.al 2014, pp.92).
Currently, the Australian government is implementing the National Immunisation Strategy for Australia 2013-2018 in an effort to increase the rates of immunization in the country and it focuses on the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). The strategy is quite beneficial to the country as it is in line with the Commonwealth’s and regions efforts to bring reforms to the healthcare system and also focus more on health and not treating illnesses. All of this contributes to ensuring that Australia has a better preventive healthcare system in place thus beneficial to all her citizens either old or young (Browne, Thomson, Rockloff and Pennycook 2015). The audience that this strategy intends to target is the Australian government and other stakeholders who are providers of immunization services.
The National Immunisation Strategy for Australia focuses on NIP. NIP is a program where there is routine set by the Australian government for children to get immunized against specific preventable diseases in accordance with the goals set by World Health Organisation regulations. The program gives these vital vaccines free of charge to infants who are eligible, kids, teenagers, and adults. The strategy is comprised of eight areas of action which are strategic priorities and they ensure that NIP is successfully delivered (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011). The eight strategic priorities of the strategy include the following; first method in this strategy is to ensure there is an improvement in the coverage of immunization in the country and for the rates of immunization to increase and be successfully delivered to all Australians. It ensures this by ensuring that the NIP schedule is followed by all Australian citizens. This method also works to identify the geographical areas in Australia where immunization coverage is still low, come up with strategies to deal with these incidences and implement these strategies in an effort to improve the coverage of immunization (World Health Organization, 2008). It also makes sure Australians from all walks of lives can easily access all of the immunizations without straining their budgets and also overcome any geographical barriers preventing access to it. Finally, it helps to find one national schedule for the free catchup vaccinations in the country so that everyone can know when they can do this in case they missed it. The second priority is that the strategy provides for the proper governing of the NIP. This is done by first ensuring that there is a map that clearly shows the roles and responsibility of every stakeholder in NIP. Also, it ensures that NIP publishes annual reports on their activities where people can find out their achievements and also the challenges they faced in their endeavors. Finally, it makes sure that the way that the arrangement for vaccinations are governed is in a clear, transparent, effective and accountable manner. This is done by regularly monitoring and evaluating these activities and giving feedback afterward (Brotherton et.al 2011, pp.2090).
The third priority that the supply of the vaccines in Australia is secure and that they are efficiently used by the NIP. It can be done through a variety of ways first by ensuring that the Essential Vaccine Procurement Strategy is implemented to ensure the supply is secured. Also, it gives for the development for an Australian standard on the refrigerators that should be used by vaccines and ensure that they are being put to use. It provides for the revision of the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines in Australia to ensure that the vaccines are of the best quality. The next priority is to ensure that the vaccine safety monitoring process are always enhanced. Recommendations from the Hovarth review on this subject are implemented. Also this provides for the creation of awareness to professionals and the community of the need of safety of vaccines and the systems in place to ensure this (Hull and McIntyre 2006, pp. 4405). By creating awareness it ensures that when the system fails it can be promptly reported and efforts done to remedy this. Another priority is that this strategy ensures that the confidence of communities in Australia in the NIP is existent by way of effective communication between every involved parties. These strategies can give the people information on vaccine safety systems being utilized so that it can give people the confidence to get immunized. Also, it utilizes social media strategies so that the target audience can be reached. The next priority is that the NIP monitoring and evaluation should be strengthened by analysing data from the immunisation register and surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases. Also they should find ways in which the immunisation system can be improved by using the current technological advancements in Australia like eHealth. The immunisation register data should be compared to the NIP schedule to find gaps and risk groups that require more efforts for immunisation (Brotherton et.at 2011, pp.197). Next priority is to ensure that the workforce which is immunising people is skilled by promotion of top quality training for those providers. this strategy provided for the review of the immunisation providers handbook which ensures that all the providers are effectively informed what they can or cannot do therefore that the rules are up to date. Also it ensures that the immunisation providers will be routinely assessed to ensure that they are qualified and also that all their credentials are all harmonised according to set standards therefore ensuring they meet set requirements. Finally, the strategy priority is to ensure that Australia maintains its top standing in the region in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases. They do this by continuing to fight for the eradication of polio and measles and also the control of hepatitis B. They should ensure they actively partake in the WHO WPRO Enhanced Programme on Immunisation (Buttery et.al 2011. pp. 36).
The purpose of the strategy is to ensure that NIP is successfully delivered to the Australian population. This strategy sets out methods through which the government can ensure that every citizen has access to immunization and NIP objectives are all met for the benefit of the general public. The strategy also addresses current arising issues in the country. There are a variety of reasons which people give why they are not for immunizing and these reasons keep on evolving (Smith et.al 2011, pp. 140). This strategy studied the landscape and issues that were arising and it made it a point to address them so that people have no more reasons to not immunize. The strategy keeps on getting updated with the crop of issues that need to be addressed therefore nothing is left out by this strategy. Finally, the strategy’s main aim is to ensure that the government improves on the countrywide immunization rates and the delivery of vaccines. It gives ways through which this can be effectively achieved (Lu and Santosham 2012, pp. 2252).
This strategy faces a variety of barriers to its implementation in Australia. First, there is a lack of enough funding to implement all the priorities listed effectively in a timely manner. It is quite expensive to implement this strategy and it is a government program, the funding is provided by them and there are a lot of other projects that require the money too thus they may not get enough funds (Pearce, Marshall, Bedford and Lynch 2015, pp. 3380). The next problem is that even if the strategy is implemented, more and more people are getting the idea that vaccines cause harm to those who get it as vaccines are made up of the viruses of the disease they are fighting. This is an increasing sentiment especially among parents with young children, for example, many people believe that children who are immunized are at a greater risk of getting autism. Therefore the strategy will not be successful in increasing rates of immunization. Finally, is that there are a lot of interior areas in Australia thus even if the strategy includes education on the benefits of immunization, not everyone will know. Therefore they will carry on with their misled beliefs and put these people who require immunization at risk. Also, many people are now mobile thus they will not keep up with the NIP schedule because when they are in new places they will not know where to get immunization they require or they missed (Gottvall et.al 2011, pp.4580).
Nurses play a huge role in the success of this strategy. First, since nurses are educated on the importance of immunization, they are used to educate the communities they work in on them. Nurses have built rapport with communities around them thus when they tell the people about the importance of vaccinations, people will tend to have faith in them and thus will ensure that the strategy is successful (Spratling and Carmon 2010, pp. 239). Also, most of the NIP schedules are delivered in hospitals, therefore, the nurses should ensure the individuals who are eligible for immunization follow the schedule by following up on them when the exercise is coming up. When there are catch up immunization exercises, nurses play a role by informing the public that they are available giving the time and place so that people will be informed (Abbott et.al 2013, pp. 598). Finally, nurses are educated on vaccine safety and quality regulations, therefore, they are important in that they ensure the immunization providers follow these rules always to ensure the safety of the public (Tillett 2011, pp. 95).
In conclusion, immunization is quite important for the health of everyone and it does so by preventing the spread of the diseases that individuals get immunized against. There is growing sentiments against immunization in Australia thus this has led to a drop in the rates of vaccinations in the country and it is quite dangerous for everyone.therefore in an effort to prevent any more consequences of this decline the Australian Government came up with the National Immunisation Strategy for Australia of 2013 to 2018. It has eight strategic priority which are aimed at improving the rates of immunization in the country. However, it faces a variety of challenges which need to be addressed for the success of the strategy. The people who play a huge role in the implementation of this strategy are nurses as evidenced in the essay.
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