The No Jab No Pay policy implemented by the government 12 months ago has certainly had an impact on immunisation rates. Although it hasn’t reached its 95% target as yet, it has seen an extra 200,000 children immunised since January 2016 as stated by Health Minister Greg Hunt. (1) This figure staggers me and scares me at the same time.
I am all for parents making an informed decision when it comes to anything related to their child’s health yet I cannot help but think there are parents out there who are not making informed decisions and are actually putting other children at risk along with their own. Why? That I do not know, I can only assume they are making their decision based on their own opinions, talking to family and friends or making an emotional decision.
I am of the opinion that every child should be fully vaccinated and support this policy, which I think should have been brought in far earlier. Why? Because not only does this policy protect our own children and other children who they interact with in child care centres, kindergartens, at social gatherings or just being out in public, it also protects our teachers, child care workers and the general public.
Over the years of teaching, I have definitely built up a very good immune system after being exposed to students sent to school with coughs, colds, noses that run like taps, you name it, I have seen it. Not only that I often have to teach my students how to blow their nose rather than using half a box of tissues to wipe it and washing their hands after is a whole new concept to some of them too. Being exposed to viruses that are far more serious has an impact on teachers, those who care for children on a daily basis and are in constant contact with them. One winter, I developed pneumonia and found myself off work for three weeks. Once given the all clear to return to work, within days I was exposed to Whooping cough. Had this policy been introduced far earlier, perhaps I may not have been exposed to this potentially deadly virus from a school aged child because they would have been fully vaccinated. I will go as far as saying, if there are school aged children out there now not vaccinated, do I want to be exposed to them? The simple answer is no. Do I have a choice in the matter? The simple answer is no. If I asked parents the same question, would you knowingly put your child in a room with students who are not fully vaccinated and risk their own child’s health, I bet their response would be simple, no.
The other issue to consider is that when there is an outbreak of communicable disease, the children not vaccinated are at times, removed from school and other social settings to prevent them from getting sick. Is it fair that they miss out? They certainly didn’t make the decision not to be immunised!
1.Greg Hunt, Health Minister Today Show 18/02/17