Is Australia overstepping, or is this what's needed to protect children?
Many states in Australia already have laws nicknamed ‘No Jab, No Pay/Play’ in which children who are unvaccinated are not allowed to attend preschool or daycare centers, and parents receiving child benefit payments will not get checks if they don’t vaccinate their kids. However, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing for an end to anti-vaxxing altogether by calling for national legislation that would cover all the states.
It’s estimated that about 5% of children in Australia are unvaccinated, and PM Turnbull is looking to lessen this number even more. In his argument in favor of vaccinations, he pointed to a recent case where a baby died of whooping cough because the mother wasn’t aware of a whooping cough booster available to pregnant women. Her baby died when he was just one-month-old, and the vaccination for the infection isn’t available until 6 weeks of age.
“This is not a theoretical exercise – this is life and death,” Turnbull said.
“If a parent says, ‘I’m not going to vaccinate my child,’ they are not simply putting their child at risk, they are putting everybody else’s children at risk too.”
It’s not illegal to be unvaccinated in Australia, but taking away benefits is one way the government is attempting to force parents to choose between vaccinating their children or giving up welfare checks/daycare privileges. When the first ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policy was enacted, it resulted in about 200,000 children being vaccinated, causing the government to take note and further the stakes.
Many studies that ‘prove’ that autism and vaccinations are linked have been unfounded and disproven several times over, but the anti-vaxxing movement continues to grow as people fear that their children will suffer from the injections. Since it’s still not illegal to refuse to vaccinate children in the country, a parent still has the right to choose but their child will have less opportunities to interact with others because of the risk they pose.
“If you, as a parent, expect the community to support you by either welfare payments or access to care, then you need to do your bit to contribute to that community by protecting other children,” Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon told Fairfax Media.
Those that are against vaccines have pointed to ‘herd immunity’ as justification for not vaccinating their children. Herd immunity is when the people that are vaccinated prevent the spread of disease and therefore prevent those that aren’t vaccinated from ever becoming ill. However, as the number of people that are unvaccinated increases, the immunization of the ‘herd’ weakens, causing cracks and killing children with diseases that have not been a threat for decades.
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