Paediatrician calls for a re-think on ‘No Jab, No Pay’ immunisation policy

The number of children in Australia who have received all their vaccinations has increased over the past twelve months, according to new figures.

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The Federal Government says almost 200, 000 children who had not met vaccination requirements have now been immunised against common illnesses.

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But the parents of more than 142, 000 or 5.5 per cent have been denied family payments because they have failed to prove their children have been vaccinated.

The Federal Government says parts of Adelaide and the Gold Coast hinterland have the lowest vaccination rates in the country and it is promising to rectify that.

But paediatric Doctor Margie Danchin from The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne said the ‘No Jab, No Pay’ scheme is overreaching.

She told SBS News 6.2 per cent of children are not immunised because their parents have simply missed medical appointments or they have difficulties accessing services.

And for migrants and refugees, there can be added challenges.

“Many of  them have a number of children and to get them up-to-date is quite a complex issue in terms of what vaccines they’ve had previously, what country they have come from and so for a provider to determine an effective catch up schedule for that child and multiple children in the one family is very challenging,” she said.

Even if those challenges are overcome, she said it can still difficult for migrants to get their children listed as vaccinated on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register and that can cost them thousands of dollars a year in lost welfare payments.

“So many of those families whose children are actually up-to-date miss out on these payments.”

Dr Danchin wants a complete evaluation of the scheme focusing not only on immunisation rates but also the financial and social implications.