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Back to school checklist

19 March 2021

More Queensland teenagers are missing out on vital vaccinations than ever before.

Dr Alun Richards, Acting Executive Director for the Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Branch, said the uptake of the School Immunisation Program is still far from meeting the state’s target of 85 per cent of adolescents to be vaccinated through the program.

“While this target is aspirational, it means there are quite a number of teenagers out there that are missing out on their school vaccinations, leaving them at risk of contracting potentially deadly diseases,” Dr Richards said.

“All year 7 students have access to free diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, as well as a two-dose course of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

“Year 10 students have access to a free meningococcal ACWY vaccine.”

Dr Richards said while COVID-19 did create some disruptions to schools last year, and children spent some time learning from home, it was important that this year vaccination was high on the priority list for kids and their parents.

“It’s free and very convenient for children to have the vaccine at school, with clinics running at all state and non-state schools,” Dr Richards said.

“While some families choose to vaccinate at their local GP or immunisation clinic, coverage from the school program is below what we’d like to see across Queensland.

“That is why I’m urging parents to return the consent forms and ensure their children are protected from these awful and preventable diseases.”

Children’s Health Queensland infection specialist Dr Sophie Wensaid vaccination remained the best way to protect young people from serious preventable diseases.

“Meningococcal disease, for example, is a rare but severe infection that can cause death within 24 hours or profound life-long disabilities such as loss of limbs and brain damage,” Dr Wen said. 

“There are higher rates of carriage of the bacteria in the 15- to 19-year-old age group, meaning they can transmit it to people who are at increased risk of infection, including young children and those who are immunocompromised.

“Vaccination not only protects young people but also reduces the risks for the community as a whole.”

In the 2019 school immunisation program, 76 percent of Year 7 students received a vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis; 66.7 percent completed the course of the HPV vaccine; and 68.8 percent of Year 10 students received a dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine.

This compares to 79 percent of Year 7 students receiving a vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis; 67 percent completed the course of the HPV vaccine; and 64 percent of Year 10 students receiving a dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine in 2017.


Last updated: 19 March 2021