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NCIRS study confirms decline in childhood vaccination coverage throughout COVID-19 pandemic

A new National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) report has uncovered a concerning downward trend in fully vaccinated coverage among Australian children since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Annual Immunisation Coverage Report 2022 is the first study of its kind to thoroughly examine the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vaccination coverage in children, adolescents and adults across Australia.

Fully vaccinated coverage in children was measured at three standard age assessment milestones – 12 months (for vaccines due at 6 months), 24 months (for vaccines due at 6, 12 and 18 months) and 60 months (for vaccines due at 4 years).

Between 2021 and 2022, fully vaccinated coverage in children overall decreased:

  • from 94.2% to 93.3% at 12 months
  • from 92.1% to 91.0% at 24 months
  • from 94.0% to 93.4% at 60 months.

Declines in fully vaccinated coverage in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were greater than in children overall – specifically:

  • from 91.6% to 90.0% at 12 months
  • from 90.1% to 87.9% at 24 months
  • from 96.3% to 95.1% at 60 months.

These larger decreases in coverage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children – particularly those in remote areas – highlight the differential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to improve the timeliness of routine and catch-up vaccinations.

Improving on-time and catch-up vaccinations is a key pillar of the national goal to meet and exceed Australia’s immunisation coverage target of 95%.

Although vaccination coverage in Australia is relatively high by global standards, childhood immunisation rates have continued to decline in the first half of 2023, underscoring the need for enhanced strategies to increase uptake and protect more children from vaccine preventable diseases.

The full and summary versions of this report, as well as the accompanying NCIRS media release, can be accessed via the links below:

Media release

Annual Immunisation Coverage Report 2022 – Summary

Annual Immunisation Coverage Report 2022