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Canberra introduces ‘No Jab, No Pay’

From the start of 2016 the Federal Government introduced a new policy – controversial in some places, notably the NSW North Coast – called “No Jab No Pay”.

This policy means that parents who have children who are not age appropriately vaccinated, who do not have a medical reason for not having vaccines, or are not on a catch-up schedule will now have their eligibility for some of their Commonwealth funded benefits cut.

The payments that may be affected include –

  •   Child care benefit
  •   Child care rebate
  •   Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement

So-called ‘conscientious objection’ to vaccination is no longer deemed an acceptable exemption from vaccination.

North Coast-wide statistics show immunisation rates for one, two and five-year olds are less than most other areas in Australia.

The breakdown by local postcodes shows significantly higher non-vaccination rates in some places, for example, Byron Shire –

The other major policy change in this area is that children up to the age of 19 years are included, with the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) being extended to accept vaccines up to the age of 19.

The exemptions to this policy include:

  • Anaphylaxis following a previous dose of the relevant vaccine
  • Anaphylaxis following any component in the relevant vaccine
  • Significant immunocompromised (for live vaccines)

Temporary exemptions include –

  • Acute major medical condition
  • Significantly impaired immune function that is anticipated to be of short duration
  • Pregnancy (for live vaccines)

For children aged 10-19 it is recommended that a primary dose consist of :

1 dose of dTpa (or dTpa/IPV if they need polio vaccination) followed by 2 ADT

  • IPV (three doses)
  • MMR ( 2 doses)
  • Hepatitis B x 3 doses
  • Varicella ( 2 doses if over the age of 14)
  • Meningococcal C
  • Varicella and Meningococcal C vaccines will not be included in the eligibility for Centrelink payments, but can be offered free of charge.

The NSW Public Health Act is presently under review regarding the vaccination requirements for children attending child care facilities, including Family Day Care.

At present unvaccinated children can still attend child care facilities if their vaccine provider completes a NSW Vaccination Objection Form. This form does not get sent to ACIR and the parents are still ineligible for the linked payments.

Centrelink has been contacting parents of children up to the age of 19 and informing them if their child is not up to date with their vaccinations. If practice vaccination records are not correct, parents will be losing some of their benefits.

The easiest way for a practice to check the ACIR records is to set up a direct link to ACIR. The North Coast Primary Health Network is currently developing resources to assist practices with connecting to ACIR.

Marianne Trent is Immunisation Coordinator, North Coast Public Health Unit

She can be contacted (02) 6620 7514.

Article by Marianne Trent

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