The vaccination debate has intensified in Australia, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging lawmakers to stop anti-vaxxer parents from sending their kids to day care.
Australian State governments have the power to sanction anti-vaxxers, and some already prevent objectors from enrolling their children in childcare. But Mr. Turnbull said he wants these provisions rolled out around the country, to further improve vaccination rates. "This has got to be a concerted national effort by all governments to ensure all our children can be vaccinated. No jab, no pay, no play”, he told reporters on Sunday.
The Turnbull government has already made family tax benefits conditional on child immunisation, abandoning a former policy that allowed ‘conscientious objection’ to vaccination.
University of New South Wales Professor of Public Health C Raina MacIntyre criticised the Turnbull announcement, saying that the ‘no jab, no play’ policy could “disadvantage working parents and their children, and may have other unintended consequences.”
Researchers from the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne argue that more attention needs to be given to “educating” parents on the benefits and low risks of vaccination. Writing in The Conversation, Drs. Julie Leask, Margie Danchin and Nina J Berry said that “parents are all different [and] It makes sense to respond to them differently.” “Many times, a hesitant parent will bring their concerns to a health professional who skilfully addresses their concerns, and the parent decides to vaccinate the child…”, they wrote.
While the Turnbull reforms have been generally well received by the Australian public, some healthcare analysts have expressed concerns about Australian doctors refusing healthcare to children who are unvaccinated.
A recent Australian Child Health Poll of almost 2,000 parents found among 5% of children who were not up-to-date with the vaccinations, one in six had been refused care — particularly those under the age of six years.
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