Tough new "no jab no play" laws could hurt children who have not been immunised due to family dysfunction, poverty, or poor access to medical support, experts warn.( I also wonder about isolated rural families? )
From January 1 this year, children who have not received the recommended vaccinations will not be allowed to enrol in childcare centres and kindergartens in Victoria.
Children who are not up to date with their immunisations will also no longer be eligible for subsidised childcare, and the family tax benefit part A .
Nearly 2 per cent of parents are registered as conscientious objectors, with another 8 per cent of children not immunised for other reasons, such as being born overseas, being from a disadvantaged background or being in out-of-home care.
Dr Margie Danchin, a paediatrician at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital who specialises in immunisation, said she had concerns that the new laws could penalise disadvantaged families.
"The biggest concern about this policy is that it doesn't actually target those who are disadvantaged or most vulnerable," she said.
"I am referring to out-of-home care children, children with child protection orders, refugee families, socially disadvantaged families, Indigenous children, children on concession cards ... these children and their families have serious access issues. Their parents may have the best of intentions to vaccinate them, but can't access medical providers, GPs, immunisation nurses to get a vaccine."
Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, said the new laws were aimed at lifting the immunisation rate from 93 per cent to 95 per cent, ( which seems to be working) and that government was supporting disadvantaged families by offering a 16-week grace period for vulnerable children to bring their immunisations up to date.
"We recognise that there are some children whose families face difficulties accessing immunisations, for example families affected by bushfires or vulnerable children involved with child protection.
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