Australia Punishes Anti-Vaxxers With 'No Jab, No Pay' Policy: Immunization Around The World

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Sunday a new “no jab, no pay” policy to begin early in 2016. Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children won't receive government welfare benefits, with some estimating the policy may cost non-conforming parents as much as A$11,000 per child in lost payments each year, BBC News reported.

The prime minister defended the rule change, an action supported by the opposition Labor party, due to potential risks posed to the rest of the population by the anti-vaxxers — families refusing to immunize their children. Generally, anti-vaxxers blame the ingredients contained within immunization shots for unexplained or difficult to explain illnesses and disorders, most especially autism.

“Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to child care without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others,” Abbott said in a joint statement with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison. The government officials noted that Australia has childhood vaccination rates over 90 percent, in the 1 to 5 years old age range. Going forward, there will be a small number of religious and medical exceptions to the new rules.

“The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments,” stated Abbott and Morrison.

Worldview

Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. These immunizations avert an estimated two to three million deaths every year, the World Health Organization calculates, from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), and measles. During 2013, 129 countries had reached 90 percent coverage for the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, while nearly 84 percent (or 112 million) infants received three doses of DTP3.

Yet, an estimated 21.8 million infants worldwide are still missing out on basic vaccines, nearly half of these children live in three countries: India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. From the perspective of the United Nations, an increasingly global world places all populations at risk when immunization is not carried out worldwide. In 2003, an estimated 28 million infants were born in 32 countries which had achieved less than 70 percent immunization. And nearly 10 million of these children were born in nations with coverage under 50 percent.

World Immunization Week, which begins April 24, is intended to address regional, national, and global commitments to immunization. The United Nation’s Global Vaccine Action Plan provides a feasible roadmap by which countries might achieve national vaccination coverage of more than 90 percent and district coverage of more than 80 percent by 2020.

wiw-infographic Close the Immunization Gap Courtesy of the World Health Organization

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