Although there are many issues that may cause rather heated debates, the decision of whether to vaccinate children or not is one that typically leads the list. Parents everywhere take a strong stance on one side or the other but if you are taking such a stance in Australia, it may end up costing you. They have a new policy in place and if you opt not to vaccinate your children, you will be facing a fine.
“Immunization is the safest way to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dan Tehan, the country’s Minister for Social Services, in a press release. “Parents who don’t immunize their children are putting their own kids at risk as well as the children of other people.”
This policy is in place to encourage parents to vaccinate. If you don’t vaccinate, you will lose the equivalent of $28 US from the tax benefits for your family. It isn’t a one time hit, it happens every two weeks for those who choose not to vaccinate.
Australia fined parents for not vaccinating in the past. It was known as the “no jab, no pay” initiative. It was passed in 2015 and parents that did not vaccinate their children lost out on the end of year supplement. It ended up being a $737 (US) hit, more or less. If children had medical issues that would not allow them to receive vaccinations, they were given amnesty from the program. Other parents were fined.
The Australian government has also encouraged vaccinations by offering them for free. This was to help bring young people, children and refugees up to date on their shots.
So far, the plan seems to be working. A Sydney news station reports that vaccination rates in New South Wales are higher than ever. Over 93% of the children between the ages of 1-5 are up-to-date on their vaccinations. In Victoria, 95% of children over the age of five years old are fully immunized.
When you compare the vaccination rates with what is happening in the in the United States, you see that more and more people in the US are refusing to vaccinate children. 75% of pediatricians reported in 2006 that they see parents who turned down vaccinations. That number had increased to 87% in 2013. In addition, Blue Cross/Blue Shield reported that this refusal increased almost 70% for children who were born in 2013 compared to those born in 2010.