By MAMAMIA TEAM
This is a cause for celebration: the Prime Minister has committed to lifting childhood immunisation rates.
The government announced the beginning of its immunisation campaign last year, when they mandated that parents would have to ensure that all children were fully immunised in order to receive the Family Tax Benefit at the end of the financial year. The family tax benefit supplement can come to more than $2000.
However, in the past, parents were able to apply for exemptions for their children, and still receive the benefit. These exemptions were allowed on medical, religious, and “conscientious objector” grounds.
Kevin Rudd will today announce that, if re-elected, the Labor party will institute a policy that will require all children to be fully immunised – and conscientious objections will no longer be regarded as a legitimate reason to not vaccinate your child.
Going forward, only religious and medical exemptions will apply.
This means that parents who have been exposed to the scare-mongering of the anti-vaccination organisation Australian Vaccination Network, or have been misled by misinformation, will not be able to exempt their child from receiving the immunisation – and still receive the payment.
News Corp reported Kevin Rudd as saying, “The science cannot be disputed. Immunisation is the safest and most effective way for parents to protect their children from disease, and one of the most important public health measures at our disposal.”
Earlier this year, a report from the National Health Performance Authority revealed just how low vaccination rates among children were in some areas of Australia. Although throughout most of Australia vaccination rates sit at approximately 90 per cent, the NHPA revealed that there was still a need to increase rates to ensure protection for children and newborns.
Of greater concern, it was also revealed that in some communities upwards of 1 in 5 children children (that’s 20 per cent) were not fully immunised. This puts children in those areas at significant risk of meningitis, measles and whooping cough. Mamamia covered the NHPA report extensively, and broke down the statistics here.