People in Australia are legally forced to vaccinate their children even though parents are against it.
Under the vaccination policy, which came into effect on January 1, parents will lose the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and childcare subsidies if their child is not up to date with their immunisations.
State and territory health departments report they are being inundated with calls from GPs and health nurses about how to implement catch-up schedules, particularly for children who have never been vaccinated, as parents flock to immunisation providers.
Meanwhile, health departments are sending out increased vaccine supplies, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Sussan Ley confirmed.
Statistical data measuring the effect of the ‘no jab, no pay’ policy on immunisation coverage won’t be available until April.
“While it is too early to provide meaningful figures, there appears to have been strong interest in the supply of vaccines for children under five years of age,” said NSW Health director of communicable diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard.
Anticipating an increase in immunisations, the federal government made specific vaccines available to catch up older children who hadn’t been immunised at the recommended ages. “There has also been strong interest in these vaccines,” Dr Sheppeard said.
The director of public health for the NSW North Coast, Paul Corben, said a lot of parents were seeking immunisation advice and vaccines since the ‘no jab, no pay’ policy had become law. “Across the state we’re all fielding a lot of inquiries,” he said.
Mr Corben said he was not sure the policy would sway hard-line anti-vaccination parents.
Australia’s national immunisation target is for 95 per cent of children to be immunised, but immunisation data released this week revealed that some pockets of the country still have shockingly low vaccination rates. Mullumbimby has one of the lowest rates of in Australia, with less than half of children under five fully vaccinated.