health

Dear PM: Please stop paying anti-vaxxers for believing bullshit.

This loophole has got to be closed. Now.

The time has come to stop pussyfooting around. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids are letting diseases like whooping cough and measles spread through the community. Children die because of their choices.

So why is the Government paying them money to do it?

Back in 2012, the Government decided to link family tax benefits and childcare subsidies to vaccination. You immunise your kids, you make the community healthier, you get rewarded with taxpayer money. Good idea.

Unfortunately, the Government left a loophole in the law. Parents could fill in a form saying they had a “personal, philosophical, religious or medical” objection to vaccination, and still get the benefits.

The number of children whose parents claim this kind of objection to vaccination has doubled over the past decade. That figure now is just under 40,000.

Happy friends. Hope they're all vaccinated.

A medical objection to vaccination is totally legitimate. But a "personal" or "philosophical" objection... what does that even mean?

That they think vaccines are going to give their kids autism? Bullshit.

That they think vaccines are part of some huge conspiracy involving governments and pharmaceutical companies? Bullshit.

That they think kids nowadays don't need vaccines because standards of nutrition and sanitation are higher than they used to be? Bullshit.

The reason so few kids in Australia die of preventable diseases is that immunisation levels are high. As soon as immunisation levels drop low enough, these diseases start to come back. It's not just the children of "conscientious objectors" who are at risk of getting sick and dying. It's children who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons. It's babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

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Sorry, but when it comes to babies dying, I don't have any tolerance for "personal" or "philosophical" objections based on misinformation or outright lies.

No child should suffer because of a misinformed parent.

In favour of childhood immunisation: medical researchers, doctors, nurses... basically, people who have studied for years and have devoted their lives to improving health.

Against childhood immunisation: a few odd outcasts in vaguely health-related fields out to make names for themselves, parents who are "educated" enough to know how to type search terms into Google, and Jenny McCarthy.

Prime Minister, please close this loophole now. Don't reward parents for believing bullshit.

Go one step further. Make childhood immunisation compulsory, except for those children who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons. If we can make baby capsules and child safety seats and bike helmets compulsory, why can't we make vaccinations compulsory?

The time has come.

Save the Date to Vaccinate is an initiative from NSW Health to remind parents of the importance of on-time vaccinations for children. Visit www.immunisation.health.nsw.gov.au to download the free ‘Save the Date’ phone app.

Do you think the loophole for "personal" or "philosophical" objections to vaccination should be closed?

Want more? Try this:

"I've seen what happens when you don't vaccinate your child."

"I lie awake at night worrying what would happen if I asked my friends to do one thing before seeing my newborn."

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