Vaccinations work to prevent disease, in large part thanks to herd immunity, which means everyone who can be getting vaccinated should be getting vaccinated. High rates of vaccination especially help those people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Those people are kept safe because when everyone around them is free of a disease, those who can’t be vaccinated won’t encounter it. That only works if most people are vaccinating, though. Not vaccinating one’s children puts other people at risk, not just one’s own children. Vaccinations are for the benefit of society as a whole, and if you don’t want to vaccinate for the benefit of society, then why should society want to help you out with massive tax credits? That’s what the government of Australia is basically saying with its new regulation that withholds certain tax benefits from parents who won’t vaccinate their children.
According to Scary Mommy, Australia has announced a new program called “No Jab, No Pay,” wherein parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will not be allowed to claim childcare benefits or family tax benefit supplements. Those benefits could add up to $10,000 U.S. dollars per child.
Under Australia’s current law, parents are eligible for those benefits even if they choose to opt out of vaccinations, but former Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the rules will be tightened to allow only medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirements.
“The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research, nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of childcare payments,” Abbott said to ABC.
Australia has a very high vaccination rate of over 90 percent, but those numbers have been falling in recent years. According to the government, 39,000 children under the age of seven have not been vaccinated because their parents objected to vaccines. A decade ago, that number was only about 15,000. Australia is looking to reverse that trend. Anti-vax rhetoric can be convincing, especially to a new parent who is terrified of doing something wrong. Withholding tax benefits seems like a pretty good way to make a person think twice about that decision and whether they want to take medical advice from scientists or Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey.
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