A report into child deaths from 2005 to 2014 has identified 54 children died in NSW from infectious diseases for which a vaccine is currently available.
However the most preventable deaths were caused by influenza and meningococcal B, which have vaccines that are not provided free of charge under the national immunisation program and have to be privately purchased, unless the child has underlying medical conditions, reports SMH.
The Child Death Review Team commissioned the research as part of its annual review of child deaths.
In recent years there have been deaths from pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, pertussis, varicella and influenza.
The analysis by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) found that many of the children who died from vaccine-preventable diseases could not have been immunised, either because they were too young, they were affected by a strain of the disease not covered by the vaccine or the vaccines were not available in their lifetime.
This left 23 deaths from diseases that were preventable or potentially preventable by vaccination, most often from influenza – which can’t be given to children aged under six months – or meningococcal disease.
Five children died from meningococcal and 12 from influenza in circumstances that a vaccine was available and they were eligible to receive it.
In addition, one child died from pertussis, one from hepatitis A and four from pneumococcal disease.
One fully vaccinated child died from pneumococcal disease, in what was considered a vaccine failure.
The annual report of the Child Death Review Team, which is part of the NSW Ombudsman’s office, found 504 children aged up to the age of 17 died in 2015.
NSW Ombudsman spokeswoman Monica Wolf said the overall number of children dying from diseases that were preventable by vaccination was small, but the ombudsman supported the recommendations surrounding the influenza and meningococcal B vaccines, she said.
“They’re not provided free of charge so that’s something they could make available and we would support,” Ms Wolf said.
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