Children are heading back to school, so it’s time to prepare for the bugs and bacteria lurking in school grounds through immunisation.

Immunisation is one of the most significant public health achievements of the last century; saving millions of lives,” says Queensland Health medical epidemiologist Dr Stephen Lambert. “Vaccinations can be thanked for eradicating diseases such as diphtheria and polio in Australia. But if vaccination rates fall we could start to see these diseases return.”

Dr Lambert said it was particularly important for Queensland’s newest school students who start pre-prep and prep this year to be vaccinated.

“A child’s four-year old immunisations are particularly important to boost immunity against serious diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.”

Immunisation is highly effective for preventing serious and life-threatening infectious diseases, and herd immunisation (where rates of a disease decrease due to large numbers being vaccinated against it) adds even further protection.

“Today, more than 91 per cent of five-year-old Queensland children are fully immunised,” says Dr Lambert. “This improvement is a real credit to parents, immunisation providers and public health professionals involved in Queensland’s Immunisation Program.”

Dr Lambert added that the aim is for 95 per cent of all Queensland children to be fully immunised by five years of age.

“We encourage parents to embrace the benefits that immunisation provides and get their children vaccinated,” Dr Lambert said. “Even though immunisation rates seem high across Queensland, up to 10 per cent of Queensland children are not immunised or not fully immunised. These children remain at risk of contracting vaccine preventable diseases.”

The holidays offer a great opportunity for parents to get immunisations up-to-date, so make it top of your back to school to-do list and head to your local GP for a jab!