Vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Australia, 1993-1998

Peter McIntyre, Janaki Amin, Heather Gidding, Brynley Hull, Siranda Torvaldsen, Andrew Tucker, Fiona Turnbull, Margaret Burgess

Research output: Book/ReportOther reportpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Since the introduction of childhood vaccination for diphtheria in 1932 and the widespread use of vaccines to prevent tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and poliomyelitis in the 1950s, deaths in Australia from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) have declined by more than 99%. It is important, however, that the downward trend in morbidity and mortality from VPDs is maintained and carefully monitored, and that changes are interpreted in relation to vaccination coverage. AIM: This report aimed to bring together three national sources of routinely collected data on the morbidity and mortality (notifications, hospitalisations and deaths) from VPDs during the period 1993-1998 for the 8 diseases then on the routine childhood vaccination schedule, and for 4 other diseases potentially preventable by childhood vaccination. It also examined vaccination coverage for the same period. METHODS: Data sources included notifications from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), hospitalisation data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Hospital Morbidity Database, deaths from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Causes of Death Collection and vaccination coverage according to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR). All data sources were expected to have some limitations, the most important being under-reporting for notifications and vaccination encounters, and coding errors in the hospital morbidity data. RESULTS: Notifications for the 8 diseases covered by the routine schedule declined by 42%, from an average of 11,537 cases each year in 1993-1997 to 6700 in 1998, and hospitalisations fell by 12%, from an average of 1745 per year to 1536 in 1997/1998, while deaths remained unchanged at 7 each year over the period of review (Table 1). Tetanus caused 1 or 2 of the deaths each year. However, 6 of the 7 deaths in 1997 were in infants during a major outbreak of pertussis. Pertussis caused most of the notifications, hospitalisations and deaths during the review period. While most of these were in children, 46% of the notifications and 13% of the hospitalisations occurred in persons aged 15 years or more. There were notable declines in the numbers of notifications of invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease in children under 5 years of age (77%), measles (87%) and rubella (75%), and there were no notifications of diphtheria or poliomyelitis. Vaccination coverage estimated using ACIR data increased during the review period. Coverage for the first 3 doses of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib vaccines, assessed at 1 year of age, increased from 75% to 85%, while coverage for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, assessed at 2 years of age, increased from 83% to 86%. It is likely that these data underestimated coverage by 5-10%, and that the increase in coverage partly reflected better reporting to the ACIR by providers.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages83
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent
  • adult
  • age distribution
  • Australia
  • child
  • communicable disease
  • female
  • human
  • immunization
  • incidence
  • infant
  • infection control
  • male
  • mortality
  • organization and management
  • preschool child
  • preventive health service
  • review
  • sex ratio
  • standard
  • statistics
  • survival
  • vaccination
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Disease Notification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vaccination


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