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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1399..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

about that at a later time. Finally, I thank all members for their contribution to the debate. I have enjoyed it. I urge the Assembly to support the motion.

Motion agreed to.

Pneumococcal vaccine

MS MacDONALD (11.26): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) calls on the Federal Government to accept the recommendation of the National Health and Medical Research Council and provide pneumococcal vaccine free to all Australian children;

(2) expresses concern at the Federal Government's decision not to implement the Council's recommendation which will disadvantage many low-income families who will not be able to afford the $600 vaccine, therefore placing their children at greater risk;

(3) recognises the severity of pneumococcal disease and notes the disease kills more Australians than meningococcal C, for which there is a Federal Government funded vaccination;

(4) notes the health and financial benefits gained by providing pneumococcal disease vaccine free to all Australia; and

(5) acknowledges a large number of organisations are in support of the National Health and Medical Research Council's recommendation, including the Australian Medical Association's Child and Youth Committee.

Since the year 2000 in the ACT, 10 people have died from pneumococcal disease and 113 cases have been reported. Nationally in 2002 there were 2,354 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and in 2001 there were 25 deaths from pneumococcal. Eleven per cent of children reported to have pneumococcal meningitis will die and half of all children who contract the disease will be left permanently disabled. These are disturbing figures but I believe the most disturbing thing is that pneumococcal disease is completely preventable. A vaccine is available-a vaccine that has been recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council and one that would protect against seven strains of the virus.

On 19 September 2003, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the NHMRC, included pneumococcal as a recommended vaccine for all Australian children under the age of two. The council recommended a three-dose series of vaccinations at two, four and six months of age. But, for the first time ever, the federal government has not accepted the recommendation of the NHMRC.

The immunisation handbook of the NHMRC is revised and reprinted every two to three years. The handbook provides a background to scientific support for the vaccines listed on the vaccination schedule, including information about risks, benefits and dosage regimes. It also contains advice on vaccinations for international travel, special risk groups, occupational hazards, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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