Push for vax clinic return

FORMER Bayswater mayor Dan Bull wants to bring back the infant immunisation service which was cut in 2022 as part of a hotly contested money-saving measure.

For more than 30 years the council funded free immunisation days for infants at local clinics covering diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles and diphtheria. 

It immunised about 750 to 1000 children per year and cost the council $120,000 to run.

A split council narrowly voted 6 to 5 to end the spending to save money during their 2022 budget discussions (“Doctor slams kids vax clinic closure,” Voice, July 30, 2022).

Cr Bull, who remains as a councillor after serving as mayor from 2017- 2021, has penned a notice of motion for next week’s meeting calling for the council CEO to include funding for the infant immunisation clinics in the draft 2023/24 budget due mid-year.

“This was a highly valued service in the community, that was utilised by residents from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds (including those that are most vulnerable), and is worthy of further consideration by council as part of the 2023/24 business planning and budgeting process,” Cr Bull wrote.

Council staff have prepared a report on the idea, and advised that if councillors do vote to restore the service there’ll still be a delay between budget time and the services getting back up and running. This is mainly because the nurses and doctors who ran the program “have either been re-deployed or have left the city”, and it’ll take time to hire replacements.

Only Joondalup council runs its own immunisation clinics directly, while a few other councils fund programs at arms-length.

Last year a GP involved in running the clinics, Leanne Hosking, said Bayswater’s service was able to immunise a high proportion of people in the district who wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinations.

“We would certainly get under-vaccinated children or clients from overseas, including refugees, who may not have access to Medicare which is needed to see a GP,” Dr Hosking said.

Cr Bull says: “I think every local government has to provide services that reflect the needs of the local community that it represents,” and the free clinics made sense given Bayswater’s demographics. 

“That’s where the power of local government is really awesome, because you can actually provide those services to people who might not be able to access them either because of their socioeconomic position, or their ability to otherwise access bulk bulling services or medicare.

“Particularly refugees here living in the City of Bayswater may not be able to afford immunising children [or] being able to get to a state-run clinic, and that’s where these kinds of services are needed.”


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