The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of $1.8 million for trials of an updated Q Fever vaccine.
The NFF and its members have long been advocating for better access to Q Fever vaccinations as farmers and those who work with livestock are most at risk of contracting the illness.
NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar, joined Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton at a cattle property outside Queanbeyan for the announcement, this morning.
“Progress towards a more effective and less expensive vaccine, is an important step in the right direction for Q Fever prevention.
“Q Fever can be debilitating with patients suffering from a chronic-fatigue-like illness for years,” Mr Mahar said.
“It is particularly troublesome for farmers and those in rural and regional communities who are in close contact with and in proximity to livestock.
“Yet despite the seriousness of the illness, it often goes undetected and awareness on how to prevent it remains low.”
The illness, caused by the spread of bacterial infections from animals, mainly cattle, sheep and goats, is usually caused by breathing in the bacteria of air or dust and is made worse during periods of drought.
Yet despite the debilitating effects of the disease, the process to receive the current Q Fever vaccination is complicated, expensive and inaccessible to anyone under the age of 15.
“Farmers shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they can access a Q Fever vaccination for themselves or their family,” Mr Mahar said.
“As it currently stands, the process of receiving a Q Fever vaccination is too difficult and acts as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing.
“A potential advantage of the new vaccine to be provided under this funding is that people will not require a test before having the vaccination.
“This will go a long way in making the vaccine less expensive and more accessible to farmers and their families.”
As part of the NFF’s 2030 Roadmap to have Australian’s agriculture sector reach $100 Billion in farm gate output by 2030, the NFF has an aspiration for regional communities to have access to world class education and health facilities.
“Last year a group of organisations with a regional focus – including the NFF – together with Q fever researchers, established the National Q Fever Taskforce where we continue to advocate about raising the awareness of Q Fever,” Mr Mahar said.
“A core aim of the National Q Fever Taskforce was to secure funding for research for a new and improved vaccine. We particularly recognise the tireless efforts of our member organisation, NSW Farmers, who have led our industry on this important issue.
“Now that we have this funding, it is important that we continue to call on governments to raise awareness of this serious illness.”