The Australian government is threatening parents who oppose vaccination, saying they will withhold child care and other payments from families that fail to immunize their children.
The government has stated that families could lose up to 15,000 Australian dollars (or U.S. $11,400) per child per year in tax and child care benefits from Jan. 1, 2016, unless their children are vaccinated. This move from the Australian government comes after similar moves to increase limit vaccination waivers in the United States.
Vaccination Efforts in America
A California bill was proposed to limit vaccination waivers after a measles outbreak at Disneyland in December which sickened more than 100 people across the U.S. and in Mexico. This caused significant disagreement and hostility among people who are against vaccination
The bill would prevent parents from sending un-vaccinated kids to school using waivers for religious or personal beliefs. Exemptions originally would have been available only for children with health problems, but they were recently expanded to include home schoolers.
If it becomes a law, California would join Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states with such strict vaccine requirements.
The Future of Vaccinations
It seems this follows a new focus on vaccinating children in Australia after the death of a 4 week old baby last month as a result of whooping cough. The government is removing a category of "conscientious objector" that allowed parents to remain eligible for full welfare benefits despite not immunizing their children.
97% of Australian families that claim tax benefits for their children are vaccinated
• Government estimates that about 39,000 children aged under 7 have not been vaccinated because of the objections of their parents – a number that has increased by more than 24,000 over the past decade.
Parents will still be able to resist immunizing their children on medical and religious grounds without financial penalty. So far, only one church with fewer than 1,000 members had registered with the government its objection to vaccination
The public's response to this announcement has been largely positive, but the head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, Professor Raina MacIntyre, said the policy was unlikely to change the views of hardcore anti-vaccinators.
The government should also look into boosting vaccination rates by investing in public education programs and subsidizing vaccines. This is a very important public health announcement because it's a critical to keep the Australian children and families as safe as possible