OPINION: wealthy immune to 'no jab, no pay' policy

THE 'no jab, no pay' policy announced by the Federal Government on the weekend may get more people to vaccinate, but what is going to do for those 'anti-vaxxers' who don't receive welfare payments?

There's no doubt that immunisation is an incredibly important tool in the fight against contagious diseases.

Vaccination protects people against a number of horrible, at times debilitating diseases that we would rather not re-visit on a large scale.

Growing up with a grandfather who suffered from polio in his younger years, putting an end to a promising career in boxing and leaving him with a cane for the rest of his life, I have seen first-hand the long term effects these diseases can have.

And he was one of the lucky ones.

But the argument this new legislation brings up, for me, is one of equality and ethics.

The policy is aimed at parents who rely on welfare benefits like childcare assistance and the Family Tax Benefit, but the anti-vaccination movement is not confined to the lower socio-economic ranks of society.

A few years ago, the National Health Performance Authority released a study showing the immunisation rates for children in 2011-2012.

No doubt the figures have changed to a certain extent since then, but the fact remains that while vaccination rates were dropping in low socio-economic areas, there were a number of wealth city pockets showing the same trend.

More affluent areas in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, and northern NSW, were also shown to be hotspots for the anti-vaccination movement.

When it comes to these households where money isn't an issue, where they can't be held to ransom to ensure their child is fully-immunised, what is going to make them think twice?

Already a number of health bodies have spoken out against it, saying better education is a more fitting way to deal with the increasing anti-vaccination movement.

While I am all for living in a world where everyone who can be is vaccinated against preventable diseases, I'm inclined to agree.

Proper education, rather than forced implementation, should be the key strategy in trying to improve immunisation rates and improve herd immunity in our country.


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