In the UK, whether a child is vaccinated against flu, whooping cough and other common illnesses is completely up to the parent.
And a lot of parents worry about the side effects associated with the immunisations and choose not to have their child vaccinated at all – which is their prerogative.
So a law, in an Australian state, that says all children who attend childcare centres must be vaccinated is pretty controversial.
Victoria, Australia, plans to make vaccinations compulsory for children who attend childcare centres as soon as 2016, says health minister Jill Hennessy.
The state’s legislation, dubbed “no jab, no play”, will mean that unvaccinated children won’t be able to enroll at nurseries throughout all of Victoria.
This isn’t the first Australian state to pass the law. New South Wales implemented the policy last year as part of a nationwide effort to stop parents rejecting vaccinations.
Hennessy hopes that the tough approach will help parents understand that not immunising your child is “unsafe” for other children as well as themselves.
But there is a way around it– albeit a bit of a long-winded process. Parents who conscientiously object to the vaccinations available to children in Australia may be able to enroll their child if they get permission from a medical practitioner.
The expert has to give the parents counselling so that they understand the risks of not having their child vaccinated.
The policy is being put into place as disease rates have skyrocketed by more than half in the last year. Children under the age of one have been seen to be the most affected by the increased rates.
To help encourage parents further, Victoria will be offering free whooping cough vaccinations to both pregnant women and children. This programme, which will cost the government $8.4million over four years, has been live before, but was stopped by the Liberal government in 2012.
“Parents will get the free whooping cough shots to protect them from giving it to their children, unknowingly, what can be a deadly virus,” says premier Daniel Andrews, who announced the programme. “This will save lives.”
While the new policy is drumming up lots of support down under, there is protest against it. One high profile anti-immunisation advocate, Sherri Tenpenny, will be touring Australia this year to share her views.
As well as writing numerous books on why parents shouldn’t have their children vaccinated, Tenpenny sells T-shirts on her website to further spread her beliefs.
But a group who’s pro-vaccination, called Stop the AVNs, told Mail Online that Tenpenny is misinforming the public.
“She’s giving information that’s not supported by evidence and marketing it to people with alternative views and possibly leaving them in danger by not vaccinating their young child,” says Dave Hawkes, from Stop the AVN’s.
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What do you think? Should vaccinations be compulsory? Let us know in the comments.