The Australian government has beefed up its already relatively strong vaccination laws in a bid to push inoculation rates up to record highs around the country. According to a statement by MP Dan Tehan, the Minister for Social Services, as of July 1, parents who don’t vaccinate their children will lose part of their biweekly support payments.
Those receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A payments – available to families earning around $59,100 USD – will lose $21 USD every two weeks for each child not up to date with their required vaccinations.
“Immunization is the safest way to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Tehan explained. “Parents who don’t immunize their children are putting their own kids at risk as well as the children of other people.”
Vaccination policies vary all around the world, both across and within nations. In the US, for example, it’s mandatory for children to receive a suite of vaccinations or else they won’t be allowed to go to school.
There are exemptions for those with legitimate medical issues, which is why it’s important for everyone else to get vaccinated. Thanks to the principle of herd immunity, if everyone else is vaccinated, they remain insulated from the disease in question. There are, sadly, exemptions for personal, religious, and philosophical reasons, which as you might imagine are applied for – and granted – at a disgraceful rate.
Anti-vaxxers have infested the Southern Hemisphere too, so some Australian parents who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of vaccines will likely take the financial hit. Hopefully, though, this pushes vaccination rates up: The desert nation has had some success with its increasingly strict vaccination laws in the past.
Back in 2015, the government terminated religious exemptions for vaccinations. Various Australian states also began to abide by a “No Jab, No Play” policy, which bars unvaccinated children from attending educational centers and daycare. They also have banned exemptions for those who object to vaccinations on a moral or philosophical level.
Consequently, 246,000 more children were vaccinated, and the immunization rate in the country crept up to 92.2 percent. This is despite the fact that the anti-vaxxer movement remains a clear and present threat. As ABC News reported back in February, anti-vaxxers in Queensland and elsewhere set up their own social services in order to partly get around current laws.
This latest government initiative is an alteration of the No Jab, No Pay laws; a switch to a biweekly reduction instead of an end-of-year penalty. According to Tehan, this scheme will provide “a constant reminder for parents to keep their children’s immunization up to date.”