Victorian parents urged not to delay childhood vaccinations during the pandemic

Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital has launched a drive-through vaccination program to reassure parents it's safe for their children to get jabs.

A health worker preparing to give a patient a vaccine.

A health worker preparing to give a patient a vaccine. Source: AAP

Victorian parents are being urged not to neglect child vaccinations, with the launch of a drive-through service to allay COVID-19 fears.

In a survey of over 2,000 Australian parents, Royal Children's Hospital paediatrician Anthea Rhodes says one in five children under the age of five has had a routine vaccination delayed during the pandemic.

"The main reason parents gave for delaying care was fear or concern about their child or themselves catching COVID-19 in a healthcare facility or service," Dr Rhodes said on Sunday.

That figure has increased to almost two out of three families cancelling or delaying appointments to the RCH's immunisation service since June.

In response, the Melbourne hospital has set up a new drive-through clinic so families can keep up to date with their children's immunisations outside of the hospital environment.

Dr Rhodes said some parents were under the false impression their kids weren't at risk of catching diseases because they were no longer at school or daycare.

There will be a risk of outbreaks such as whooping cough, measles and chickenpox if children return to face-to-face learning without vaccinations, she said.

"If our community as a whole is not up to date with vaccinations, we risk the herd immunity coming down and that means we could see outbreaks of these preventable diseases," Dr Rhodes said.

"The last thing we want to see off the back of the coronavirus pandemic is outbreaks of these other preventable diseases."

The drive-through service is available to all children up to age 18 who are due or overdue a routine vaccination.

Dr Rhodes said other healthcare providers across the state were considering introducing similar arrangements.

"We encourage people always to access care closer to home wherever they can," she said.

"There are some GPs who will provide drive-through based services and other local council areas and some of our metropolitan hospital partners as well."

RCH's national child health poll also showed about a third of injured and unwell kids had healthcare delayed more broadly.

Premier Daniel Andrews reassured parents it was safe to take their children for a check-up as clinicians and healthcare providers were following strict COVID-19 protocols.

"If we do not have people coming forward and getting access to the care they need, we will simply have people's health deteriorating and more and more people having to present to the emergency department," he said.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am.

During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative.

The full list of restrictions can be found here. All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at 

4 min read
Published 30 August 2020 at 3:28pm
Source: AAP, SBS