Here's What Australia Is Doing to Parents Who Don't Vaccinate Their Kids

Here's What Australia Is Doing to Parents Who Don't Vaccinate Their Kids

Australia's government has a radical solution to the issue of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children — and the policy goes by the unofficial-ish title "No Jab, No Pay." Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced back in April that the government would begin withholding "childcare rebates" and other government benefits to families who don't vaccinate their children, ABC News reported, and the new policy is set to go into effect early this year.

"It's a very important public health announcement, it's a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible." Abbott told ABC.

A child receives a vaccine in California.
Source: 
Damian Dovarganes/AP

This isn't the first move that the Australian government has made against anti-vaccination parents: In 2014, the government blocked the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, a group that campaigns against vaccination, from continuing to qualify as a charity and receive donations, citing "misinformation," reported ABC News.

A similar movement against vaccines has cropped up in the U.S. in recent years, despite overwhelming evidence that childhood vaccines are safe — not to mention necessary for the prevention of potentially devastating childhood illnesses like measles, rubella and whooping cough.

Many in the anti-vaccination community cite a now-debunked medical paper that claimed there was a link between a common childhood vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. The original paper has since been retracted.

A child receives a vaccine after a measles outbreak in Berlin
Source: 
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A video released in 2014 by Good magazine outlined some of the frightening effects of anti-vaccine campaigners in the developed world: In 2008, there were 923 outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in North America, but by 2014, that number had increased to 58,051. 

In Australia in 2008, there were no reported cases of vaccine-preventable illnesses, but by 2014 there were a whopping 2,614 cases.

The goal of Australia's "No Jab, No Pay" initiative is to encourage more parents to vaccinate their children and the slow the increasing numbers who are refusing vaccines. While childhood vaccination rates in the country are still over 90 percent, ABC News reported that a startling "39,000 children aged under seven were not vaccinated because of their parents' objections — an increase of more than 24,000 children over the past decade."

Australia's policy will also come with stricter requirement for religious and medical exemptions to childhood vaccines.

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Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

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