While today your children and mine are spending the day at school learning new things and playing with friends, practising their times tables and eating vegemite sandwiches and cut-up fruit, 21 children in Melbourne are at home.
21 children in Melbourne will spend today excluded from their school. 21 children who will stay in their pajamas, instead of donning their school uniforms.
21 children at home, playing computer games, watching YouTube on their Ipads, banished from school making working parents struggle to find carers.
21 children making do, spending the day with grandparents and neighbours. Some left alone.
Excluded, shut out of their school. Missing friends and vital face-to-face teaching.
These children could be at school but they have been asked not to be.
And the only people to blame?
Their own parents.
21 un-vaccinated students at a Melbourne primary school have been sent home and told not to return to school until March after two un-vaccinated students at the school contracted measles.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said that students and teachers at Princes Hill Primary who can't prove they are fully immunised against the viral infection had to leave the school and not return until the outbreak had passed.
Out of 461 students at the school 21 will be excluded until March 1.
"Parents must vaccinate their kids," Mr Merlino said.
15 people in Melbourne’s inner north have now been diagnosed with the disease that began with an outbreak two weeks ago.
But it's not even close to being contained with Health Minister Jill Hennessy saying that the number of cases were expected to increase throughout the state.
"Measles is a very dangerous illness, it's highly contagious as well, we know people may not have had symptoms while carrying this illness and that is our great concern," she said.
Australian Medical Association Victorian branch president Tony Bartone said the outbreak was "a huge concern", particularly when some suburbs affected did not have 95 per cent immunisation rates - enough to create herd immunity.
While medical experts struggle to deal with the outbreak there is no doubt who is at fault here.
There is no doubt who is to blame for these 21 children missing out on vital school days – their parents.
When a parent makes the conscious decision not to vaccinate their child it has a tapestry of repercussions throughout the community, from lowering the herd immunity level, to being a potential danger to those with weakened immune systems. But in this case there is a side effect that these parents probably didn’t consider – this isolation.
These kids didn’t ask to not to be vaccinated, if they have any beliefs about vaccinations whatsoever its only because they have been brainwashed by their parent’s dangerous views.
These kids didn’t ask to be kept home they are being kept home because of their parent’s actions. They didn’t ask to be isolated from their friends, their teachers, their school community. They haven't done anything to warrant this break in their education except be born to parents with reckless views.
The dangerous rhetoric that anti-vaxxers spread can unduly influence parents who just want to do the best for their kids. Thats why it is vital we keep talking about vaccinations, we keep defeating the lies and mistruths. It could be that these parents think they are caring for their children, when in fact they are harming them.
We need these kids to know that it is not their fault they have been sent home from school, its not the fault of the teachers or the education system. The fault lies squarely with their parents.
The outbreak, which many have blamed on un-vaccinated children - comes despite the federal government introducing "no jab no pay" rules excluding families with unvaccinated children from some welfare and childcare payments and the Victorian Government’s own "no jab no play" rules, which says vaccinations are required for children to attend childcare and kindergarten.
But it does not extend to schools.
In 2013 then head of the AMA Dr Steve Hambleton called for unvaccinated children to be held back from school
''We should certainly make it difficult for [unvaccinated] children to get to school,'' said Steve Hambleton to Fairfax Media.
The community should make it difficult for parents to choose to harm their children in this way, to choose to harm the community in this way. The community should make the incentive to vaccinate so great that parents, who can’t be swayed by the facts choose to vaccinate for other reasons - the fear of repercussions.
These kids shouldn’t be at home, they should be at school. But they should be at schools where we have no need for a policy that un-vaccinated children are excluded when outbreaks occur - because we shouldn’t let them in schools in the first place.