The anti-vax movement has not broken through, with stats showing the overall level of vaccination objection has remained largely unchanged since 2001.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance examined the trends in registered vaccination objection, and estimated the contribution of unregistered objection to incomplete vaccination among children in Australia.

Their report has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Registered vaccination objection affecting children aged one to six years increased from 1.1 per cent in 2002 to 2 per cent in 2013. However, in this period the proportion of children who were incompletely vaccinated, but for whom no objection was recorded, declined.

The highest levels of recorded objection were in regional zones, with clear clustering in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland.

Over half (52 per cent) of the 2.4 per cent of children with no vaccinations and no recorded objection were born overseas.

The authors suggest that most are likely to have been vaccinated, but this had not been recorded on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR).

“We recommend that primary care clinicians pay close attention to ensuring that the vaccination history of overseas-born children is correctly recorded in the ACIR,” the authors urged.

The authors estimate that 1.3 per cent of children were incompletely vaccinated because of unregistered parental vaccination objection, leaving an estimated total of 3.3 per cent of children in Australia aged one to six years affected by a registered or unregistered objection.

The authors say “that there has been little change in the overall impact of vaccination objection since 2001”, contrary to claims in the media that parental refusal was increasing.

The team advised clinicians to be “on the alert for appropriate catch-up opportunities for partially vaccinated children, as in most cases they are probably not up to date for reasons other than parental objection”.