Training for Aboriginal Health Workers to Expand as Immunisation Rates Rise

A training program for Aboriginal Health Workers to administer vaccinations will expand into more regional areas, with figures suggesting the program has already contributed to increasing immunisation rates among Aboriginal children.

The State Government has released figures that show Aboriginal immunisation rates in 5 year olds have exceeded those of non-Aboriginal children, with 94.3% of Aboriginal children now vaccinated. The Aboriginal Health Council of WA launched a training program for Aboriginal Health Workers in partnership with the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) at the Department of Health in March last year.

So far, the program has been rolled out in a number of locations including Perth, Port Hedland and Broome, and 15 Aboriginal Health Workers have been trained to administer and promote immunisation.

“Until this program was launched, only nurses and doctors were authorised to carry out immunisations,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.

“The benefit of also training Aboriginal Health Workers is that they have access to Aboriginal children living in remote locations and are trusted by the communities where they live. “We are thrilled that it appears this training has already contributed to immunisation rates among Aboriginal children increasing significantly.

“The figures show that the immunisation rate among Aboriginal children increased from 91.3% in the September quarter to 94.3% in December and we hope that rate will increase even further.” Ms Nelson-Cox said the training program would be expanded this year to include Kalgoorlie and Roebourne, and she hoped it could be rolled out to several remote locations later in the year.

“We have received an overwhelming response from our Aboriginal Medical Services, who see the value in their Aboriginal Health Workers being trained to administer immunisations,” she said. “We are working hard to meet the demand for the course, and we hope that the more Aboriginal Health Workers we can train, the higher the immunisation rates will be.”

Note: an immunisation rate of about 95% is required to effectively prevent outbreaks of highly infectious diseases.

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