Labor pledges free vaccinations for Canberra babies

Doctor giving a child an intramuscular injection in arm, shallow DOF
Labor has promised to provide free vaccinations to every Canberra baby if re-elected, as it attempts to keep the focus of its early campaign on health.

The meningococcal B vaccinations would be made free for every baby under Labor’s proposal, which has been costed at $12.3 million over four years.

Labor will give free meningococcal B vaccinations to every baby in Canberra if re-elected.
Meningococcal can kill up to one in 10 of those who contract the illness, according to federal Department of Health figures, while one in 30 survivors suffer severe skin scarring, loss of limbs or brain damage.

Meningococcal B and C infections are preventable through vaccination, and the C vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program.

The meningococcal B vaccination, however, must be bought, and Labor says the costs can be high. It is roughly $150 per dose, according to the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre.

Providing the vaccine for free would “form an important plank of Labor’s preventative health strategy”, the party said.

It has also announced it would expand its healthy weight initiative, and plans to take the “It’s your move” program to more high schools in the ACT if re-elected.

Labor will also continue the roll out of free water refill stations across the ACT.

It is expected to make further health-related announcements on Tuesday.

The vaccination initiative continues a string of health-related promises made by Labor in the past week, the most notable of which is its planned $650 million upgrade to the Canberra Hospital.

There have also been announcements on support for stroke victims, boosts to nurse training and staffing, a new centre for Indigenous healthcare, bulk-billing grants and new walk-in centres for Gungahlin and Weston Creek.

The Liberals have made significant commitments to health.

They have pledged a $395 million rebuild of Canberra Hospital, satellite hospitals in Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, 52 new nurses at Canberra Hospital and 10 new social workers and design work for a new building for Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service.

Source: The Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-election-2016


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