A children’s doctor injects a vaccine against measles, rubella, mumps and chicken pox to an infant on February 26, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Australia might soon ban unvaccinated children from attending preschools and daycare. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull didn’t mince words on the proposed law, dubbed “No Jab, No Play.”
“This is not a theoretical exercise – this is life and death,” he said. “If a parent says ‘I’m not going to vaccinate my child’, they’re not simply putting their child at risk, they’re putting everybody else’s children at risk too.”
Australia has been moving toward stricter vaccination laws for years. In 2015, the federal government stripped welfare and tax benefits from parents of unvaccinated children, a move that led to an increase of about 200,000 child vaccinations.
Vaccination laws that restrict unvaccinated children from attending schools already exist in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. But Turnbull and the Australian Medical Association want to enforce them nationwide.
“If you, as a parent, expect the community to support you by either welfare payments or access to care, then you need to do your bit to contribute to that community by protecting other children,” Michael Gannon, president of the Australian Medical Association, told Fairfax Media.
Still, some think Australia’s this strong-arm legislation could empower the anti-vaccination movement.
“People without any previous interest in vaccination may defend anti-vaccination activists and join their cause because they are concerned about the threat to civil liberties,” said Julie Leask, a professor and researcher at the University of Sydney.
Like in the U.S., there’s a small but loud movement of anti-vaccination Australians (or “vaccination skeptics“) who believe vaccines cause autism and other medical problems – despite the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe. These beliefs can permeate entire communities and facilitate outbreaks of Victorian-era diseases.
(Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM)
One anti-vaccination mother living in a suburb outside of Sydney recently proposed starting a daycare center for unvaccinated children.
“Many families are concerned about vaccinating. Yes it’s in response to No Jab No Play,” the post read. Alarmingly, some were supportive of the idea, suggesting they open similar daycares in nearby cities.
Such a move could put whole communities at risk by weakening herd immunity.
Herd immunity is all about strength in numbers. Society becomes protected from outbreaks when enough people are…