Australia will now be fining parents for not vaccinating their children.
Australia has had some strict vaccination laws for the last two years with the implementation of "No Jab, No Pay". This policy stated that the parents of unvaccinated children wouldn't receive their end of year tax benefit as a penalty. That could be as much $545. But, this latest introduction is taking things one step further and is supposed to serve as a "constant reminder" to parents that they should be vaccinating their children.
Parents will now be fined $28 Australian Dollars ($20 US) every two weeks per unvaccinated child, and the money will be taken from their family tax benefits. This policy went into effect on July 1st, after it was reported that the rate of parents who are against vaccines has still been on the rise. Australia is aiming to hit a vaccination rate of 95% for five-year-olds as soon as possible.
USA Today reported on this new change that may seem unusual to Americans. The only parents who will be exempted from the fee are those who have a child who cannot receive vaccinations due to medical issues. The Australian Minister for Social Services, Don Tehan, released a very clear statement that detailed the reasoning behind the new policy: "The change to No Jab, No Pay provides a constant reminder for parents to keep their children’s immunisation up to date. Immunisation is the safest way to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents who don’t immunise their children are putting their own kids at risk as well as the children of other people".
A few Australian states already have laws that ban children who are not vaccinated from attending childcare centers. Even more do not allow unvaccinated children to attend their centers during an outbreak of an illness. There are even fines in place for childcare centers that do unlawfully allow unvaccinated children to attend. Fines for this type of infraction can be up to $30,000 which is a devastating amount for any such facility.
While it may seem intrusive to some on this side of the world, the policy is doing its job. Since 2016, when the No Jab No Pay policy went into effect, about 246,000 additional children have received their vaccines. The Australian government has also budgeted to provide these catch-up vaccines to anyone who chooses to get them and to new refugees who enter the country.
The declining rate of vaccinations has been a recent trend that has resulted in diseases that had disappeared for decades making a resurgence. Government control over vaccines in such a way isn't happening in many places but to see a country taking steps to protect their citizens is interesting, indeed.