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Policy position - vaccination

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Policy Position - Vaccination

Immunisation protects vulnerable people that due to allergies, age (newborn infants), pregnancy or illness (those undergoing cancer treatment), cannot be protected by vaccines. Widespread vaccination of the majority (known as ‘herd immunity’) ensures that these susceptible Australians - at-risk by no fault of their own - are rarely, if ever, exposed to others with preventable diseases. If herd immunity were seriously compromised by anti-vaccination attitudes, many would suffer due to a prevalence of diseases that should have been eradicated. Indeed, those who choose not to vaccinate are enabled to do so by the herd immunity created by those who choose to vaccinate.

All medical procedures carry an element of risk - there has never been a 100% safe or effective medical procedure. While serious complications from vaccinations are possible, they are extremely rare and much less common than similar risks from the diseases they prevent. Immunisation has led to the complete eradication of diseases, namely smallpox and rinderpest. Other diseases have seen a dramatic reduction in recorded cases over the last 40 years, e.g. Polio: 49,293 in 1975 to 385 in 2013. This result has prevented needless pain, suffering, disability and death.

Since anti-vaccination gained momentum in the 1990’s, parents refraining from vaccinating their children has led to rising rates of whooping cough (pertussis). In particular, an alarming 7,824 cases were recorded in California in 2010, a figure not seen since the 1950s:

Growing scepticism against vaccines has compromised the herd immunity necessary to protect children from preventable disease. Many parents were persuaded by a study from 1998 (Andrew Wakefield), associating vaccination with autism in children. Discovered to be fraudulent, it was retracted from the journal in which it appeared, and the author stripped of his medical licence. As recently as this April, another study from the Journal of the American Medical Association involving 95,000 youths declared that there was still no credible link (“Link between vaccine, autism debunked again” - ABC Science).

27 May 2015

Even so, the Government’s present proposals do not force people to immunise their children. The proposals

withdraw taxpayer support for child care and other services or payments should someone fail to vaccinate.

Freedom of conscience on this issue remains for those who choose not to immunise - they can seek services and

support from non-government options. The proposals, in our view, balance that freedom against the freedom

other parents expect to have when sending their child to schools, playgrounds, parks and other public spaces. It

is also to be noted that not one recognised religious group tells its adherents not to vaccinate. Medical grounds

for refusal will remain, for instance if a child is known or likely to have a reaction to immunisation. Some children

with allergies are prone to adverse reaction.

Furthermore, on 20 May 2015 the shadow Treasurer told the National Press Club that Labor will support the ‘no

jab, no pay’ policy. The Australian Greens’ new leader also indicated to the Senate during the May sitting week

the Greens’ strong support for vaccination. It is fair to say that all three major parties support current vaccination

policy, as do we.

Lastly, it is good neighbour behaviour to not let our health choices and those on behalf of our children potentially

adversely affect those who come into contact with us. Indeed, in recent times this principle has been adopted

when it comes to allergic reactions to products containing nuts, and what children can and can not take to school

according to school policy. The Government’s policy is, in some respects, an extension of that neighbour