ECEC sites to be fined in ‘no jab no play’ measures for WA
New regulations under the Public Health Act 2016 will require childcare services, kindergartens and schools in Western Australia to collect and, on request by the Chief Health Officer, report on the immunisation status of all children from January 1, 2019.
The information collected will be used to provide support and referral pathways to families to ensure their children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases and will also enable the Department of Health to identify under-vaccinated children and, if necessary, exclude them during a period when there is a disease outbreak.
Under the new regulations the person in charge of a childcare service, kindergarten or school can be fined $1,000 if they permit a child to attend the facility in contravention of a direction from the Chief Health Officer.
The information collection and financial penalty system form phase one of a three part program designed to raise the rate of vaccination in Western Australia, with the state being lower than the national average for vaccinations in one, two and five year olds.
Phase two of the ‘No Jab No Play‘ will see the Western Australian Government introduce a Bill to State Parliament to amend the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) and the School Education Act 1999 (WA). This will allow the Chief Health Officer to exclude children who are not fully vaccinated from enrolling in childcare services and kindergarten (non-compulsory early education and care).
It is anticipated phase two of No Jab No Play will be effective as of July 2019 for children entering childcare services, and in 2020 for children commencing kindergarten.
In 2017, WA’s vaccination coverage was reportedly lower than the national average for one, two and five-year-olds, with two-year-olds in WA recording the lowest immunisation coverage of 89.1 per cent.
In order to protect those in the community who are unable to be vaccinated, 95 per cent of children must be fully immunised to effectively prevent outbreaks of highly infectious diseases such as measles, the World Health Organisation has said.
Known as herd immunity, the 95 per cent immunisation rate protects those who are too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women, children with immune disorders and some cancer patients, for whom these diseases can be extremely serious.
Children are already required to be fully vaccinated for parents to be eligible to receive family assistance payments through the Federal No Jab No Pay policy, which restricts the payments of benefits and subsidies to those who chose not to vaccinate their children.
Western Australian Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said her Department would work with childcare providers to ensure they are aware of the changes, adding this was a positive step in improving the health and wellbeing of young children. “Most families using childcare are already familiar with the requirement to have their children’s vaccinations up to date, mainly due to the Federal Government’s ‘No Jab No Pay’ program.” she said.
The Western Australian childhood immunisation program is provided free through the National Immunisation Program and protects children from 16 vaccine preventable diseases.
More information about vaccination in Western Australia is available here.