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Childcare benefits linked to vaccination

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service data showed immunisation rates for the 12 months to December 2014, revealed 91.65% of the region’s children were vaccinated at age one – 0.13% higher than the state average.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service data showed immunisation rates for the 12 months to December 2014, revealed 91.65% of the region’s children were vaccinated at age one – 0.13% higher than the state average. Renee Pilcher

MORE than 90% of Wide Bay children have braved needles to be fully vaccinated as the Federal Government plans to deny childcare rebates to anti-vaccination parents.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service data showed immunisation rates for the 12 months to December 2014, revealed 91.65% of the region's children were vaccinated at age one - 0.13% higher than the state average.

About 92.99% of Wide Bay children were fully vaccinated by age two and 93.76% of the region's children were vaccinated at age five.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the government would end the conscientious objector exemption on children's vaccination for access to taxpayer-funded Child Care Benefits, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement from January 1, 2016.

Existing exemptions on medical or religious grounds will continue, however a religious objection will only be available where the person is affiliated with a religious group where the governing body has a formally registered objection approved by the government.

Michael Tizard chief executive of C&K, which operates childcare services in Bundaberg, said he supported vaccination of children entering its services, and welcomed the Federal Government's national approach on the issue.

"We have never made it compulsory, as we don't believe in discriminating against children," he said.

"We support public health education programs on vaccination for parents and carers around this issue and are keen to work with both the Queensland and federal governments on developing legislation, which means the best outcomes for children and educators."

Mr Tizard said he hoped the change in policy would encourage all parents and carers to become educated on vaccinations.

CQUniversity Professor of Immunology Andrew Taylor-Robinson said community immunity, also known as herd immunity, was an important strategy for protecting populations against a variety of infectious diseases.

"Since vaccinated people have antibodies that neutralise a pathogen, they are far less likely to transmit a given infectious disease agent to other people with whom they come into contact," Prof Taylor-Robinson said.

"Thus, even people who have not been vaccinated - and those whose vaccinations have weakened or whose vaccines are not fully effective - often can be shielded from the full effects of infection by the herd immunity because vaccinated people around them are not getting sick.

"Herd immunity is more effective as the percentage of people vaccinated increases."

Topics:  immunisation, vaccination




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