“No jab, no pay”: Smart or Ruthless?

Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

The anti-vaccination movement has been gaining steam over the last decade powered by those who fear that vaccinations are harmful for children and have the potential to cause a large number of negative reactions and conditions including autism. Despite comprehensive and conclusive medical and scientific evidence that shows that any adverse effects of vaccination are far outweighed by the benefits of preventing suffering and death from infectious diseases, there is still a strongly vocal minority who insist that vaccines are dangerous and who choose not to have their children vaccinated.

First-Injection

With the rise in parents refusing to let their kids get the jab, there’s been a corresponding (and rather unsurprising) rise in the outbreak of diseases that were once all but eradicated. Measles has been one of the major comeback stories but polio, diphtheria and whooping cough are also among the range of maladies that have been allowed to raise their heads again.

Aussie parents will lose thousands of dollars of welfare and childcare benefits if they refuse to vaccinate their kids on the grounds of being “conscientious objectors”, as of January 2016.

With that in mind, maybe it’s really not that surprising that Australia has said “no jab, no pay” – Aussie parents will lose thousands of dollars of welfare and childcare benefits if they refuse to vaccinate their kids on the grounds of being “conscientious objectors”, as of January 2016. Australian Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has said it’s not fair for taxpayers to subsidise parents who choose not to immunise. “The overwhelming advice of those in the health profession is it’s the smart thing and the right thing to do to immunise your children.”

The overwhelming advice of those in the health profession is it’s the smart thing and the right thing to do to immunise your children.

This is no small thing. It’s estimated that around 39,000 children under seven have not received immunisation because their parents are vaccine objectors. Is the Australian government taking away parent rights via strongarm tactics? Or is this merely the most effective way to protect a population from deadly diseases?

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison

Of course, any government action which corners people into making a particular choice needs looking at very carefully. While it won’t be illegal for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids, they’ll be heavily penalised for it. How many would be able to manage without the benefits provided by the government? On the other hand, all evidence seems to point squarely toward the fact that a high vaccination rate is hugely important not just for those who get the jab, but also for those who can’t. The very sick (such as those undergoing chemotherapy) and the very young (too young to be vaccinated) are vulnerable members of our society who rely on the herd immunity that the rest of us provide.

While I’m no fan of any government sticking their nose in my personal affairs, I believe that this time Australia has done the right thing by its people. Sure, there are some who will have their feathers ruffled. But when it comes to protecting those who can’t protect themselves, no amount of wrongheaded conviction should be allowed to get in the way.