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Federal Government awards for immunisation



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3 June 1996

Federal Government awards for immunisation

This year marks the bicentenary of the administration of the first smallpox vaccine developed by the so- called, Father of Immunisation, Edward Jenner.

Smallpox has since been eradicated from the world in recognition of the work of Jenner and as part of its major commitment to lifting childhood immunisation rates in Australia, the Federal Government today announced details of three new initiatives to involve the community in the immunisation effort.

Health and Family Services Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge said the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) would be sponsoring the Edward Jenner Travelling Fellowship designed to encourage further research in immunisation.

"The successful applicant will be financially supported to travel to study overseas' immunisation programmes and on return, to contribute to improving our immunisation status.

"In addition, the Government will be offering a Community Award for an individual or organisation who has played a significant role in promoting childhood immunisation," Dr Wooldridge said. "Details of this award will be advertised shortly.

"For school children, we will also be initiating a national poster competition for children in year 5 and 6, most of whom will be about to have their second Measles- Mumps- Rubella shots. We hope to tap into the artistic talent of these children and increase their understanding of the importance of immunisation."

Dr Wooldridge said it was a national disgrace that 200 years after Edward Jenner began his immunisation work and proved the effectiveness of immunisation as a means of reducing and often eliminating diseases, that half of Australia's children today have not been fully immunised.

"This has resulted in 1,284 reported incidence of measles last year with 144 new cases reported up until 29 April, 1996; 3,874 cases of rubella last year with 974 cases reported so far this year; 4,140 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) last year and 878 new cases this year.

"The Government is determined to turn this situation around and I hope these community awards play an important part in drawing people's attention to the urgent need to immunise our children," he said.

Media inquiries:

Rohan Greenland, Minister's Office, 06 277 7220

Kay McNiece, Dept. HFS, 06 289 6996