The Australian Government last week outlined plans for a new policy, where parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will be refused, government benefits. These benefits add up to around $15,000 (£7,500) per child, with the aim to improve safety through vaccination rates.
In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “This is essentially a ‘no jab, no pay’ policy from this Government”, and the number of exceptions will “be lucky to be in the thousands.” It is thought the only group to be able to reject to this change will be the Christian Scientists, who believe healing prayer is more effective without medical intervention.
The new law is likely to be passed without problems, as the opposition leader also agreed with the consensus this was a sensible step.
President of the Australian Medical Association, Brian Owler, also supported the move and underlined the importance of people talking to their GP about it. Whilst this is an important step, Owler stated “You have to keep going with the education, the right messaging, to the media and the public to get parents to the right sources of information and to call out the anti-vax lobby for what it is.”
This policy is seen as a conditional cash transfer policy, which has proven to be very effective in many countries to ensure certain standards, and it is hoped vaccination rates will rise and maintain a high rate, despite the measure being considered a world first.
It seems that this policy has been set out due to a rise in unvaccinated children, and it is vitally important to protect society by giving parents an incentive to do the right thing. In recent years the UK had seen low immunization, with the number of children getting the MMR vaccine hitting only 80 per cent in 2003/4. Numbers have recovered, but there remains a threat of an outbreak as was seen in 2013 with an outbreak in the Swansea area. Over a thousand people were infected in South Wales, with one death being reported too, proving how vital vaccinations are to our community.
Australia has vaccination rates of over 90 per cent in one to seven year old, however it is recommended it should reach at least 95 per cent to be effective, and 39,000 children were not vaccinated because of their parents objection. This figure is up 24,000 over the last decade, so the government is keen to stop this rising trend. It is hoped the changes would come into effect from January next year.