A bipartisan coalition of Aussie lawmakers, led by P.M. Tony Abbott, has proposed that financial penalties be levied on parents who fail to get their children vaccinated against viral contagions absent of course medical contraindications or narrow, well-defined religious objections.
In other words, the penalties, generally administered by the taxing authorities, would apply to those who plead philosophical or belief exemptions (in Australia, also sometimes known as conscientious objection). The no jab, no pay policy is due to go into effect as soon as next January 2016. Thousands of families could lose payments, with the government estimating about 39,000 children under seven have not received immunization because their parents are vaccine objectors.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said it's not fair for taxpayers to subsidize parents who choose not to immunize:
'The overwhelming advice of those in the health profession is it's the smart thing and the right thing to do to immunise your children,' Mr. Morrison told reporters in Sydney. The government says the number of parents opting for the 'conscientious objection' vaccination exemption for payments has more than doubled over the past decade.
The Australian Medical Association, representing 27,000 doctors, backs the plan. AMA President Brian Owler said, Vaccination remains one of the most effective public health measures that we have. Whatever we can do to increase vaccination rates is important.
Some families stand to lose up to $15,000 per child, in lost childcare and welfare subsidies.
**So, tell us what you think? Should similar pocketbook incentives be applied to recalcitrant American parents? On the one hand, normally parents have complete authority over their children s health, except of course when parental behavior presents a threat to their health or well-being. On the other, children ill with preventable contagions present a quantifiable risk to all their playmates and schoolmates, especially those who cannot be vaccinated for a variety of reasons. As the Australian Social Services Minister put it, It s not fair for taxpayers to subsidize parents who choose not to vaccinate.
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