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03 March, 2009

Retired AFL star Troy Cook has thrown his support behind a new initiative to boost immunisation rates among Indigenous children in Western Australia.

Department of Health Communicable Disease Control Director Professor Paul Van Buynder said that while overall immunisation rates for WA children were high, the rates for Indigenous children still needed improvement.

“Immunisation rates in Western Australia are good, with 91 per cent of children fully vaccinated by the time they are one year old,” he said.

“However, immunisation rates in Aboriginal children are much lower with only 75 per cent fully vaccinated at one year of age.

“Without immunisation Aboriginal children are much more vulnerable to infectious diseases which can then be spread to other family members.

“Immunisation remains one of the best ways to protect children from serious infectious diseases such as measles, whooping cough and meningococcal disease.”

The Department of Health has recently completed an in-depth review of immunisation services across the metropolitan area and, as a result, is launching an initiative to improve vaccination rates in Indigenous children.

Professor Van Buynder said that one of the recommendations from the review included increasing the availability of immunisation services for Aboriginal families.

“We are implementing outreach programs for Aboriginal families to make sure parents can get their children vaccinated at a young age, to best protect them from serious diseases and infections,” he said.

Recently retired Fremantle Dockers football player and member of the Wirrpanda Foundation Troy Cook and his wife Tamara are committed to immunising their child Xavier on time.

“One of the aims of the Wirrpanda Foundation is to improve the health of Indigenous children,” Cook said.

“I’ve been involved in the development of a programme to create a healthy and active lifestyle, encompassing all positive health messages including protecting children from serious infections.

“Making sure that your children are vaccinated on time is an important activity for Aboriginal parents and Tamara and I came to the clinic as soon as Xavier was two months old.”

Child immunisation vaccinations are available through general practitioners or the Central Immunisation Clinic in Rheola Street, West Perth.  Families can attend the Clinic between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

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