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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21644

Ms GILLARD (2:22 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Can the minister confirm that on 18 September this year the National Health and Medical Research Council endorsed the new—eighth—edition of the Australian Standard Vaccination Schedule, including a number of new vaccines and one against pneumococcal disease? Isn't it the case that the government is refusing to fund the provision of the vaccine against pneumococcal disease, which kills more Australians than meningococcal C, for which there is a government funded vaccination? Minister, what advice is available to the government on the likely number of deaths from pneumococcal disease in the next five years and how many of those deaths would be prevented if the vaccines were funded?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for Lalor for her question. At this stage I cannot give the member the detailed information that she seeks, but I can tell her that the government is ensuring that people in high-risk categories are being immunised against pneumococcal. All Indigenous children and all children living in Central Australia are being immunised against pneumococcal and, obviously, the government continues to talk to our expert advisers in these areas.