Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is calling for a nation-wide ban on unvaccinated children in childcare centres.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is calling for a nation-wide ban on unvaccinated children in childcare centres. The Northern Star Archives

PM pushes national ban on unvaccinated kids in childcare

THE Prime Minister wants a national ban on unvaccinated children enrolling in childcare centres or preschool.

Malcolm Turnbull has written to chief ministers and premiers, urging them to roll out laws some states have already implemented in banning unvaccinated children from enrolling in childcare.

The PM has vowed to take the policy to the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, and said all parents deserved to know their children were safe when they dropped them off at daycare or preschool.

"All of us desperately want to protect our children and our grandchildren and other people's children too," Mr Turnbull told The Telegraph.

"If you are don't vaccinate your child you are not just putting their own life at risk, but you are putting everyone else's children at risk."

 

 

In Queensland, NSW and Victoria, children must be fully immunised or on an approved catch-up program unless an official objection has been lodged. The PM wants to see similar policies in the NT, ACT, SA, WA and Tasmania.

In his letter to leaders, Mr Turnbull wrote: "At our next COAG meeting I propose we agree that all jurisdictions implement legislation that excludes children who are not vaccinated from attending childcare or preschool, unless they have a medical exemption.

"Vaccination objection is not a valid exemption. We must give parents the confidence that their children will be safe when they attend childcare or preschool.

"Parents must understand that if their child is not vaccinated they will be refused attendance or enrolment."

One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson was last week forced into damage control, backtracking on comments she made about vaccinations and GST.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has suggested a national education program to ensure parents across the country have all the facts on vaccinating their children.

 

Meanwhile, research released last week revealed some unvaccinated children are being refused care by health care providers.

The latest Australian Child Health Poll found that one in six Australian children who are not up-to-date with their vaccines have been refused care by a health care provider.

Director of the Child Health Poll, paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes said that while in the United States a clinician's right to refuse care to an unvaccinated child has been a topic for some time, this poll suggests a worrying pattern of practice not previously identified in Australia.

"All children, regardless of their vaccination status, have an equal right to health care," Dr Rhodes said.

This poll also found that a clear majority of Australian parents indicate support for strong policies to help get kids up-to-date on vaccines and preserve immunity in the community.

"While some medical professionals will argue that unvaccinated children can present a risk to other patients, we must remember that children aren't making these choices about vaccination for themselves. By turning them away, health care providers not only deny health care to a child, but remove the possibility of educating parents and helping them to eventually choose to vaccinate," Dr Rhodes added.

Among children whose parents reported them as not being up-to-date with their vaccines, children under six were most likely to be refused care by a health care provider (25 per cent), followed by 21 per cent of primary school-aged children and five per cent of teenagers.

Dr Rhodes said the poll served as an important reminder that while most parents follow the National Immunisation Program for their children, the level of vaccine-related concern and misconceptions among parents is significant.

"While the vast majority of parents vaccinate their children, we found that almost a third of Australian parents have some concerns about vaccination.

"All vaccines currently available in Australia must pass stringent testing before being approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and yet one in ten parents said they were unsure whether vaccines were safe for their children, and one in six believe they contain ingredients that can cause serious harm such as mercury. Since the year 2000, vaccines available on the National Immunisation Program have not contained the mercury-containing preservative thiomersal," Dr Rhodes added.

She said ongoing education and communication to tackle parents' concerns is vital to ensure high levels of vaccination among families.

"We also know that the majority of parents have poor knowledge about when vaccines may need to be delayed, so this poll highlights the need to encourage them to see their health care provider for advice before assuming their child can't be vaccinated when they've got a runny nose or are on antibiotics," Dr Rhodes said.

For more information, including media material, see www.childhealthpoll.org.au



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