Parents are urged to immunize their children following a Federal Government’s “no jab. no pay” act moving to the Legislation Committee.
The act will remove conscientious objections and religious exceptions to current immunization policies, in the hopes of reducing risks to public health.
Medical conditions will now be the only exemption to new vaccination laws, with parents having to obtain a medical certificate for validation.
Public Health Association of Australia Incorporated’s CEO Michael Moore says the act is a vital public health measure.
Michael Moore: “It’s incredibly important that people be vaccinated; and it’s not just the personal responsibility where the individual has a miniscule risk of vaccination compared to the disease. There are some people who simply can’t be vaccinated and there’s a social responsibility, which means that those that can be vaccinated can help protect those who are not able to be.”
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Tanya Plibersek agrees, telling the house three million lives are saved per year as a result of vaccinations.
Tanya Plibersek: “Vaccination is one of the single most effective and cheapest ways we have of keeping a community healthy, and the example of polio – and of course, smallpox before it – shows that with proper eradication campaigns we can eliminate many of these diseases, and we can certainly save many lives.”
Despite this, Immunise Australia Program figures show about two per cent of Queensland parents conscientiously object to vaccinations.
Another six per cent remain unsure about vaccination science.
Though the act will improve vaccination rates among minorities, Mr Moore says taking a balanced, educational approach is the most effective way to encourage vaccinations.
Michael Moore: “What we really need to do with those five or six per cent is be persuasive and get them to understand that although there are risks associated with vaccination they’re no where near – in fact, they’re miniscule compared to the risks associated with the diseases.”
Parents failing to follow new immunisation requirements will forfeit up to $15,000 a year in Child Care Benefit and Rebate payments.
The Government expects the measure will save 500-million dollars over the next five years.
The act is expected to come into effect on January first.
Chloe Ranford, QUT News.