Immunisation saves lives

| May 14, 2013

New figures for national immunisation rates have raised concerns about Australian parents failing to immunise their children. Dr Steve Hambleton, federal president of the Australian Medical Association, urges all families to follow vaccination guidelines.

It is alarming that in a modern industrialised country in the 21st century Australian health professionals and advocates need to convince certain sections of the community – including some of the most educated people living in the most prosperous suburbs – that immunisation is safe.

It is more alarming that there are groups who actively spread lies and misinformation about immunisation to create uncertainty in the minds of parents.

The most active of these groups even has the hide to operate under the name of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) – a dangerous misnomer if ever there was one.

The simple truth is that immunisation saves lives.

Australia has a high immunisation rate. We need to keep it high.

The best way to do that is to keep promoting and spreading the best scientific advice available to the community – families, schools, public health services, and through the media.

Vaccination is one of the great success stories of modern medicine and public health.

In the nearly 30 years that I have been practising medicine, the battle against many infectious diseases has been won – some eradicated, a great many under control.

We no longer have iron lungs for polio victims or exclusive chest hospitals devoted solely to TB (tuberculosis) sufferers.

Measles no longer circulates among the immunised population. There are virtually no cases of mumps or rubella in children anymore, and congenital rubella is exceptionally rare.

Chicken pox has almost disappeared. Hepatitis A is virtually eliminated, with particular benefits in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The pneumococcal vaccine has changed the look of children’s wards from as recently as 2005.

Diphtheria is a forgotten disease, and no family should lose a child to tetanus ever again.

We need to spread the facts and make available balanced evidence so that people can make informed decisions about what is best for the health of their children and the health of other children in our schools and in the community.

One of the best sources of immunisation facts and quality evidence is a booklet called The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers, which was produced by leading scientists at the Australian Academy of Science. It is available on the Australian Academy of Science website at

Other trusted sources of evidence can be found at:

Immunisation has brought better health, security and comfort to Australian families and the Australian way of life. Let’s keep it that way.



  1. robert crompton

    June 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Imunisation saves lives
    Hear, hear! Your views were well supported by the Sonya Pemberton ABC documentary “Jabbed” at 8.30pm. on the 26th May. Should be compulsory viewing for all parents with young children and babies. Get the word out there!

    • EvelynCale

      February 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm


      I totally agree! Vaccination is one of the great success stories of modern medicine and public health. I make it a point to give my daughter every vaccine she needs and will be needing in the future. I hope every parent out there takes note of this too!