Come January 2016, Australian children who haven’t received vaccinations will be banned from child care and kindergarten. Personal choice and religious beliefs will no longer provide acceptable excuses.
The choice to opt your kid out of receiving vaccinations has been a hot topic of debate, but lawmakers are putting their feet down, making the choice to say “No” to vaccines a much more difficult suit. In Australia, the Victorian government announced that as of January 1st, 2016, no child will be admitted to child care, pre-school, or kindergarten without having been vaccinated.
In a statement to the press, Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said it’s no longer about a parent’s right to choose when that choice poses a very dire public health threat. She says the aim of the new law isn’t to exclude kids from childhood services, but to urge people to immunize their kids.
This "No jab, no play" law followed the government’s "No jab, no pay" law that will also come into affect next year. Parents who still refuse to vaccinate their children will lose thousands of dollars of childcare and welfare benefits come January 2016. The government will no longer accept the “conscientious objection” exemption—the only passable excuse will be medical reasons against getting vaccinated, supported with a doctor’s certificate.
The spread of diseases perpetuated by the lack of vaccinations is no longer acceptable when the solution is easy, accessible, and effective. “The science on this issue is really clear. Vaccinations save lives,” Hennessy declared. “We are getting tough on this issue because it’s important that we start addressing things like a significant increase in whooping cough.” According to Hennessy, there were over 1,000 more cases of whooping cough this year than the previous year. She also says the spread of illnesses like the measles is becoming more virulent.
Australia isn’t the only region taking more control over vaccinations. In June, the California State Assembly passed a bill mandating that children in daycare or school be vaccinated. The bill eliminates personal-belief as well as religious exemptions, leaving medical reasons as the only valid excuses, just like Australia. The bill was partially inspired by a measles outbreak at Disneyland last December which spread to more than 130 California residents, sparking condemnation of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
This decision makes California the third state to overrule religious exemption as a reason to opt out of vaccines. While the decision is igniting some backlash from those who claim to have religious beliefs against vaccinations, Slate’s Miriam Krule pointed out that, “it’s almost impossible to find a religion that has a clear anti-vaccine stance.” Freedom of religion is extremely important, but if there’s no clear indication of anti-vaccine sentiments then it shouldn’t be used as an exemption from a procedure that saves lives.
The benefits of requiring vaccinations aren’t just in the interests of an individual child, but the masses. “I pay no heed to those who go around putting mistruths out about vaccinations,” says Hennessay. *Cough* Jenny McCarthy.