JUST a year after the Queensland Government introduced its “no jab, no play” policy in a bid to combat anti-vaxxers, it has emerged 5000 of the state’s children are on a waiting list for a tuberculosis vaccine.
The deadly disease that claimed as many as one in seven European lives in the late 19th century has re-emerged outside Australia in recent years and now kills more people worldwide each year than HIV/AIDS.
A chronic global shortage of the Bacille Calmette Guerin vaccine meant it was unavailable in Australia for all of 2016 and health authorities are struggling to clear the backlog, leaving thousands of children without defence to the wasting disease once known as consumption.
The Commonwealth Health Department approved the alternative vaccine but it can only be administered by authorised medical officers.
“This authorisation process has added to the time required to address waitlists,” a Queensland Health spokesman said.
“Tuberculosis Control Units are currently working through waitlists to administer the vaccine to eligible children in order of priority.”
He said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newborn babies were at the top of the priority list, followed by children aged under five who have lived or will live in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for three months or more.
Children under five travelling to one of the 22 “high burden” TB countries listed by the World Health Organisation for more than three months are also given priority.
However, one Gold Coast mother has unsuccessfully waged a four-month battle against Queensland Health to have her newborn son immunised, ahead of a planned October trip to her homeland of Russia, one of the 22 “high burden” TB countries.
Mother-of-two Alesya Rapisarda was told by a local Queensland Health official there were 200 babies under six months old on the Gold Coast waiting list for the vaccine alone.
She had hoped to take her husband, her six-year-old daughter Amelia and baby Sebastian, almost five months, to Russia to visit her elderly father and began to seek out the vaccine from the time Sebastian was three weeks old.
She intends to pay for the immunisation and after being told multiple times there was none of the vaccine available on the Gold Coast, she sought it further afield in Toowoomba.
While the health service in that city, a…