It’s been one year since Australia implemented a controversial vaccination policy — if your kids aren’t vaccinated, you won’t receive a child care stipend — and it appears to be working: According to Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, nearly 200,000 children who were not previously vaccinated were immunized in 2016.
The ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policy took effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and requires children under 20 to get all relevant vaccinations under the country’s National Immunization Program for parents to receive up to $11,000 in child care benefits, including the Australian Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A. Parents are required to report immunizations to the Australian Childhood Immunization Register.
While medical and religious exemptions are allowed, parents can no longer conscientiously object on non-medical grounds.
According to the Washington Post, ‘No Jab, No Pay’ came on the heels of a 2012 whooping cough epidemic in Australia. That same year, the Post said, measles – a disease once mostly eliminated through vaccinations – returned. There were 168 cases in Australia.
According to the Courier-Mail, in the year since the policy’s implementation, the number of fully vaccinated 5-year-olds, for example, has increased from 92.59 percent to 93.19 percent.
“I am delighted to see an increase in parents who are having their children immunized. We are doing all that we can to encourage parents to immunize their children,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told the Courier-Mail. “This data shows the policy is working.”
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Still, there is opposition. One group – called No Jab, No Pay, No Way – says that the law is “pressuring or forcing injections that can cause serious medical conditions, even death,” according to the post.
The anti-vaccination movement has gained strength in the United States in recent years, despite the fact that claims linking vaccines to autism have been widely discredited.