Ms O’Byrne said the refusal was the first by the Federal Government to fund a vaccine on the recommended list.
Speaking in Launceston yesterday to launch a petition for the vaccine’s funding, Ms O’Byrne said Tasmania had had 86 cases of pneumococcal meningitis last year.
The disease has a death rate of between 10 and 30 per cent, and affects more Australians than the meningococcal C disease, for which a fully funded vaccine is available.
Ms O’Byrne said that if parents wanted to vaccinate their children against pneumococcal it would cost between $180 and $200 for each injection. Each child requires three injections to be fully immunised.
“This decision means that many parents face the choice of whether they pay the $450 to $500 out of their own pockets to fully immunise their child, or, if they cannot afford this bill, take the risk that their child will contract pneumococcal disease,” Ms O’Byrne said.
There was also a delay of some months to get the vaccine, she said.
However, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett said the Federal Government was still looking at funding the vaccine, and it would be part of Budget considerations.
Senator Barnett said the vaccine was already available for at-risk groups of children, including Aboriginal children and those with Down’s syndrome and other medical conditions, and the Government would look at extending that to all children aged 12 months and under.
“Ideally the Government would have a vaccine for every disease that existed,” he said.
“Obviously it’s a funding issue and it will need to be considered in the Budget context.”
Senator Barnett said the Federal Government had increased funding for vaccinations elevenfold since 1996 and was now spending $140 million a year.
More than 90 per cent of Australian children one year old were now vaccinated against major diseases, compared to 53 per cent in 1990, he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.