Victorian pre-schoolers will be banned from attending child care or kindergarten unless they are vaccinated, under new ‘no jab, no play’ laws to be introduced by the State Government.
The new laws will be introduced within weeks and will come into effect on January 1.
“Vaccinations save lives,” Health Minister Jill Hennessy said.
“We are getting tough on this issue because it’s important that we start addressing things like a significant increase in whooping cough.
“We know the spread of things like measles is becoming more virulent.”
Ms Hennessey said there had been 1,000 more cases of whooping cough this year compared to last year.
She said the matter was a community safety issue.
“It’s not just in the interests of an individual child, but all of us,” she said.
“Our aim is not to exclude kids from early childhood services. Our aim is to get people immunised and we’re going to use this as an incentive and a prompt.”
Vaccination rates plateaued
It followed moves by the Federal Government to strip social security payments from parents who do not immunise their children.
Conscientious objections would not be allowed and only those with a doctor’s certificate would be exempt.
“The science on this issue is really clear. Vaccinations save lives,” Ms Hennessey said.
“I pay no heed to those [who] go around putting mistruths out about vaccinations
“We know that it is absolutely essential to get your children vaccinated if you can and only if there are medical reasons as to why a child can’t be vaccinated will that be acceptable.”
Vaccination rates in Victoria have hovered around 92 per cent for a number of years but that number has plateaued.
“So we know we need to do more to lift it, bringing in ‘no jab, no play’ laws which we are hopeful will help lift those vaccination rates,” she said.