Australia takes a stand against anti-vaxxers with a proposed $11,000 penalty

No jab, no pay.
No jab, no pay.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children in Australia may soon lose up to 15,000 Australian dollars ($11,000) per child per year in tax and child care benefits under a popular proposed law.

Starting Jan. 1, the bill would end the conscientious objection waiver that has allowed the parents of nearly 40,000 Australian children to skip the recommended vaccine schedule.

Those who refuse to vaccinate their children after that date without a medical reason will be barred from claiming child tax credits or state vouchers for child care.

Known as the “no jab, no pay” bill, it was introduced in April by former prime minister Tony Abbott. Government officials confirmed Wednesday that it will very likely be law soon.

In Victoria and New South Wales, the home states of Melbourne and Sydney, “no jab, no play” laws barring unvaccinated children from child care centers are already set to go into effect from Jan. 1.

While vaccination rates in Australia overall have increased in the last two decades, so have the number of children who are not fully immunized as a result of parents’ choice.

Along with the US and Europe, the country has seen a recent resurgence in measles, due largely to increasing numbers of parents withholding all or some of their children’s vaccines as a result of medically unproven suspicions that the shots cause autism and other harms.

In the US, three states—California, Mississippi and West Virginia—have passed laws to ban parents from avoiding vaccines for personal beliefs.

A “No Jab No Pay No Way” Facebook group opposing the law on grounds of “freedom of choice” had nearly 1,700 likes as of Thursday.