The Victorian government is getting serious about its vaccination policies, announcing that as of 1 January 2016, no child will be admitted to child care, pre-school, or kindergarten without having been vaccinated.
The new "no jab, no play" law will be introduced in the coming weeks, with the Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy saying it's no longer about a parent's right to choose when that choice poses a very real public health threat. "Vaccinations save lives. We are getting tough on this issue because it's important that we start addressing things like a significant increase in whooping cough," she said in a statement to the press. "We know the spread of things like measles is becoming more virulent."
According to Hennessey, in the past year alone there were 1,000 more cases of whooping cough as compared to the previous year. "It's not just in the interests of an individual child, but all of us," she said. "Our aim is not to exclude kids from early childhood services. Our aim is to get people immunised and we're going to use this as an incentive and a prompt."
The policy is a tougher take on the Australian federal government's own "No jab, no pay" law that will come into affect in next year. As we reported back in April, from January 2016, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children in Australia stand to lose thousands of dollars of childcare and welfare benefits. The world-first policy will abolish the 'conscientious objection' exemption that has reportedly seen 39,000 children miss out on vaccinations.
According to the ABC, unvaccinated children in Victoria will soon be barred from school unless they have a doctor's certificate. "I pay no heed to those [who] go around putting mistruths out about vaccinations," Hennessey said. "We know that it is absolutely essential to get your children vaccinated if you can and only if there are medical reasons as to why a child can't be vaccinated will that be acceptable."
Hennessey said the hope is that the law will see the state's vaccination rate of 92 percent increase in coming years. If you could see us right now, it would look a little something like this: