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Tuesday, 30 November 1965


Mr SWARTZ (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - Since I answered last week a question asked by the honorable member, another 47 cases of measles have been reported, making the total number now reported 1,438. There has been some abatement in the number of persons contracting the disease, but the disease has spread further afield throughout the Territory, particularly Arnhem Land. Because the disease is spreading we have decided to go ahead with a programme of vaccination. We have ordered vaccine to be flown in this week from the United States of America. It will be available in the Northern Territory during the coming weekend. We will immediately commence a vaccination programme with the objective of producing a barrier of immunity across the area where the disease appears to be spreading. I had arranged for some investigations to be made in Western Australia. I find that the authorities there have not at any time undertaken a mass vaccination programme, although in the past some doctors have arranged for the vaccine to be used in parts of the Kimberleys and elsewhere in the north-west. So far four Aboriginal children have died during the epidemic in the Northern Territory. Three of those children died from diseases resulting from or subsequent to the measles but I suppose their deaths could be directly attributable to the measles. With our programme of vaccination and bearing in mind that we have only about 730 remaining cases under direct treatment at the moment, we hope to contain the disease and gradually to eradicate it.







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