Health professionals and scientists almost universally agree that refusing to vaccinate children could cost them their good health, and even their lives. In Australia, it could also cost their parents a small fortune.
The Australian federal government is tightening restrictions on who can obtain an exemption from vaccinations, and saying that those who refuse vaccines while also failing to meet the narrower requirements will no longer receive childcare payments and other benefits, according to Australia's ABC.net.
Under the current rules, parents who disagree with vaccinations for one reason or another can file their choice with the government without any penalty. The new rules will require parents either to vaccinate their children or to provide convincing evidence of a medical exemption or religious objection.
Parents who don't meet the requirements could be denied up to 15,000 Australian dollars (slightly more than $11,000 USD) per child. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the new rules a "no jab, no pay" policy.
Australian government officials say they expect the number of families claiming exemptions under the new rules to be quite small. Those claiming religious exemptions, for example, will have to register with their local "church or similar organization"—and almost no major religious groups have beliefs prohibiting vaccinations, Australia's Social Services Minister Scott Morrison told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Australia has a vaccination rate of 90 percent among young children, but the number of unvaccinated children has risen roughly 61 percent in the last decade, from 15,000 kids 10 years ago to 39,000 today, the article said.
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