“The Budget’s little jab at anti-vaxxers is a win for all of Australia’s children.”

Doctor giving a child an intramuscular injection in arm, shallow DOF

There’s a tiny win for kids in the Budget that’s also a tiny win for science.

Parents who don’t immunise their kids will lose $28 a fortnight, under Family Tax Benefit Part A. The cut comes in from 1 July 2018.

No, a measly $2 a day isn’t going to make the most committed anti-vaxxers change their mind. But they’re not the ones the policy is aimed at. This is aimed at the fence-sitters (the ones who aren’t quite sure whether vaccination is a good idea) and the forgetters (the ones who just haven’t got around to getting their kids vaccinated yet).

This kind of financial jab at parents does work. The Government’s original “no jab, no pay” policy came in at the beginning of 2016. Since then, immunisation rates have gone up. For two-year-olds, the rate has gone up 1.75 per cent to 90.06 per cent.

We speak to Malcolm Turnbull about the anti-vaccination movement (post continues after video…):

It seems small, but it matters a lot. Government figures show that to stop most diseases spreading through the population, and infecting those who are too young or too ill to be immunised, around 90 per cent of people need to be vaccinated against them. To stop highly infectious diseases like measles spreading, around 95 per cent of people need to be vaccinated.

Every extra vaccinated kid counts.

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When you vaccinate, you’re not just protecting your child. You’re protecting other people’s children – including babies like Riley Hughes, who was too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough when he died from it.

People who make the effort to get their kids vaccinated are protecting the whole community. Those who don’t do it should get a little nudge. For some, a little nudge may be all they need.

perth couple lost baby to whooping cough
Riley Hughes' parents say goodbye. Source: Facebook.

Some people try to frame vaccination as an issue of personal choice, but it’s not entirely a matter of personal choice when your personal choice could end up killing someone else’s child.

Clearly the anti-vaxxer movement is a powerful one. No doubt there are parents out there who genuinely believe they’re doing the best thing for their child by not getting them vaccinated. That’s a massive issue, with no easy answers.

The “debate” on vaccination is going to rage on, even though it can’t really be called a debate when pretty much the entire medical and scientific community is on one side.

“Research” is going to continue to flood the internet, even though I prefer to just focus on one fact: Since childhood vaccines were introduced in Australia in 1932, death from vaccine-preventable disease has fallen by 99 per cent.

But today, let’s just celebrate a minor victory for science and for kids. Today, I just want to thank the Government for making a decision that might save a few children’s lives.

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