Health Minister Cameron Dick, who supports vaccination for children, said he would introduce the legislation by the end of the year, giving state’s childcare operators the alternative to turn down the enrollment of children who are not fully vaccinated.
Vaccination was a “critically important public health strategy for adults and children,” said Health Minister.
“Labor will honor its election commitment to introduce legislation that empowers child care services to make decisions on whether to enroll children based on the vaccination status of those children,” he said. “The proposed legislation will be designed to protect children and workers from preventable diseases by allowing childcare centres to refuse enrolment to children who are not fully immunized. I will be consulting with all stakeholders so that the legislation reflects Labor’s election commitment and has support in the Parliament.”
On the opposing end was Shaun Rudd, Head of Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association, who said it wasn’t fair to penalize children for the decisions their parents make, but he hoped new legislation would improve chances for education.
“I think that is reasonable that you don’t allow kids around when there is an outbreak, but I think not allowing them in just because their parents are against vaccination is a bridge too far,” said Rudd.
Debate over vaccinations has risen in recent years. Conscientious objectors generally make up about 2 percent of parents, but figures released by the federal health department showed the number of parents filing conscientious objection forms with the Childhood Immunization Register raised to its highest level since 1999.
New South Wales has the highest number of parents objecting to vaccines on moral or philosophical grounds. Under that state’s “no jab, no play” law, children who have not been vaccinated cannot be enrolled in childcare unless they have officially lodged an objection. Children who are not immunized because of medical issues are also exempt.