Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has claimed Australia’s vaccination program is successful, following revelations that rubella has been eliminated in Australia.
The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday that the highly contagious viral disease had been eradicated across the country.
The disease, also known as German measles, causes a fever, rash, joint pain and swollen lymph glands.
If it is contracted by pregnant women during the first 10 weeks, it can result in miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects or life long medical issues for babies.
Mr Hunt said Australia’s immunisation program played an important role in eliminating the disease.
The program provides free vaccination against rubella for children aged 12 months, with a booster shot given at 18 months.
National immunisation rates for five-year-olds have reached 94.62 per cent, currently the highest rate on record.
About 89.3 per cent of WA’s two-year-olds are immunised.
Meanwhile, 93.4 per cent of one-year-olds are vaccinated compared to 9.4 per cent nationally.
Mr Hunt said that it was proof that vaccinations immunisation programs were successful in the country.
“The science is in and the medical experts’ advice is absolute – vaccinations save lives and protect lives and they are an essential part of a healthy society,” he said.
“Our National Immunisation Program played an essential role in this huge achievement by ensuring high levels of vaccination coverage for rubella”
“I commend the efforts of Australia’s health professionals over the decades and the millions of parents who ensure their children are always vaccinated.”
More than 30 countries have currently eradicated rubella, with the “eliminated” status declared once there has not been an endemic transmission for at least 36 months.
Countries that have achieved that status include Sweden, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Lithuania, Montenegro and Uzbekistan.