No Jab, No Pay changes
In a move to strengthen its No Jab No Pay policy, the Federal Government has announced that from 1 July 2018, the Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly payment will be reduced by $28 for each child who does not meet the immunisation requirements. AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said the scheme has helped to boost immunisation rates, with 210,000 additional children now protected since the policy’s introduction.
“That, in an exponential way, increases the protection afforded to other children in playgroups and schools from serious infectious disease,” Dr Gannon said.
He added that the medical profession always strives to reach vaccine-hesitant parents.
“That involves individual doctors and nurses being respectful and careful in delivering the information. There's no doubt about the science, but it's a case of taking people with us, not purely punitive measures,” Dr Gannon said.
The Government claims that reducing fortnightly payments, rather than withholding the supplement at the end of the year as occurs at present, will serve as a constant reminder for parents to have their children’s immunisation requirements up to date.
From December 2015 to March 2017, the immunisation rate for one year olds increased 1.35 percentage points to 93.63 per cent; the coverage rate for two year olds rose 1.75 percentage points to 90.06 per cent; and the rate for five year olds increased 0.73 percentage points to 93.32 per cent. Indigenous immunisation rates have also increased across all relevant age cohorts.