Whether or not to vaccinate your kids is one of those parenting debates that will probably never end. Even though medical science has shown time and that vaccines are safe and effective at stopping the spread of deadly diseases, many parents still choose to delay or even forgo vaccines altogether. This has led to some pretty dire consequences, such as the measles outbreak in Portland that has exposed as many as 500 people to the virus. The choice to vaccinate or not is still that: a choice. And some parents, and even medical practitioners, can't be persuaded to change their minds. In Australia, parents also have the choice to vaccinate or not. But the government has taken the drastic step of fining parents who choose not to.
As of July 1, parents in Australia who opt not to vaccinate their kids will lose A$28, about $21US, from their bi-weekly tax benefit. This fine is for each child not up to date on their vaccines. The new policy is in addition to the no jab, no pay policy the federal parliament enacted two years, in which families would lose an end-of-year payment to their family tax benefit if their kids were not current on their shots. That loss amounts to about $547US per family.
It certainly sounds harsh, but data shows that the original policy was working. Since 2016, when the original policy was enacted, about 246,000 children were vaccinated. Additionally, the country's vaccination rate hit an astonishing 92.2%. It should be noted that these policies only apply to vaccinations recommended for children up to four year of age.
There are exceptions to the enforcement of the policies. For example, children with certain medical issues or natural immunity are exempt. And the fines and constant reminders aren't dissuading all of the non-vax community. Families who don't vaccinate are organizing their own group childcare and homeschools, and seeking out medical practitioners known to be sympathetic to their movement.
The fact remains that vaccinating your children is safe and effective, and is the only way to prevent the reemergence and spread of deadly diseases. It'd be interesting to see what kind of backlash this sort of policy created in the United States.