Almost 150,000 children have had their vaccinations brought up to date and the parents of thousands of other have dropped their objection to immunisation following the introduction of No Jab, No Pay laws.
The Federal Government has claimed its policy of withholding childcare and tax benefits rebates from parents who do not immunise their children is a major success after the number who conscientiously object to the vaccination of their children has plunged from 40,057 in late 2014 to 24,500.
Since the No Jab, No Pay laws came into effect on 1 January last year, the parents of 5738 children have dropped their objections to immunisation, and a further 148,000 have brought the vaccination of their children up to date.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the results were “extremely encouraging”, and showed the rules were helping to achieve the Government’s goal of 95 per cent vaccination rate among children.
Australian Childhood Immunisation Register records show that, for the first time, immunisation rates among one- and five-year-olds has reached 93 per cent, while for two-year-olds it lagged at 90.7 per cent in late 2014.
“It’s great to see that families are getting their children immunised,” Mr Porter said. “To give our kids the best protection against diseases such as whooping cough, we’re aiming towards a herd immunity level of 95 per cent, and it’s clear that the No Jab, No Pay policy is helping achieve this.”
Under the laws, parents have to ensure their child’ vaccinations are up to date if they are to be eligible to receive the Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement payment.
The rules were introduced because of concern about low immunisation rates in pockets of Sydney, the NSW north coast and southern Queensland where parents claiming conscientious objections to vaccination were considered to be putting the health of their and other children at risk.
The AMA has endorsed a booklet produced by the Australian Academy of Science about vaccination, including evidence showing that that the small risks associated with immunisation are vastly outweighed by the benefits.