Vaccination rates in Australia have hit an all-time high after the government introduced a “No Jab, No Pay” program, which withholds up to $15,000 of a parent’s income for those who refuse to have their children immunized.
The campaign launched on January 1, and has resulted in 5,738 children being vaccinated for the first time, and another 148,000 receiving booster shots, Science Alert reported.Citizens can still “conscientiously object” to vaccinating their children for religious or philosophical reasons, but they will take a huge hit to their wallet if they do so, without exception. Families had until March to comply with the program before their Child Care Benefits, Child Care Rebates and Family Tax Benefits would be cut.
The new policy also prevents parents from enrolling unvaccinated children in child care, pre-school, or kindergarten.
“Vaccination rates had fallen to such a historically low level, that we were seeing the reemergence of diseases that we had been free of for years,” Social Services Minister Christian Porter told ABC News.
“We were facing a situation where the medical community were telling us that ‘herd immunity rates,’ as they call it, need to be 95%, and we were just dropping steadily below that.”The boost has led to 93% of all children between the ages of one and five being up-to-date on vaccinations, up from 90% the previous year.
The unpopularity of vaccinations, in the face of consistent scientific evidence, has led to the reemergence of childhood illnesses once nearly eradicated across the globe. The debate has been especially intense in the United States, as areas have been battling outbreaks of measles.
The MMR vaccine is 93% effective with one shot and up to 97% effective with a booster shot. In communities where over 80% of residents are vaccinated, the spread of the disease is improbable, if not impossible, due to the concept of herd immunity, as there are fewer people carrying the disease and most of those they come in contact with are immune, stopping the spread of the disease.
There is still no treatment for the measles, making the vaccination critical.