No Jab, No Play laws hit South Australia
The first of two child vaccination laws was introduced to the South Australian Parliament this week, meaning early childhood services will be required to collect immunisation records and provide them to the State’s Chief Public Health Officer on request, bringing SA in line with other states and territories with similar rules in place.
SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said the first phase of the No Jab, No Play policy aims to improve the ability of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to prevent and control outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease.
“Immunisation is one of the most effective strategies to protect children and adults against serious diseases,” Minister Wade said, adding that the new legislation will “save and protect” lives of children and the broader immunocompromised community.
The Bill requires parents and guardians to provide immunisation records to their child’s ECEC service, and gives the Chief Public Health Officer the power to request the records at any time. Additionally, the Chief Health Officer has the power, under the Bill, to exclude a child from an ECEC service in the event of an outbreak of disease.
Mr Wade said that while the additional powers afforded through the Bill were a start, the SA Government were investigating further measures they could take “consulting on even tougher measures to improve overall vaccination rates”
Under the second phase of No Jab, No Play, it is proposed that children must have up to date immunisations, be on an immunisation catch up program, or be exempted for medical reasons, in order to enrol in, or attend an ECEC service.
In announcing the changes, Mr Wade noted similar state based legislation in other areas of Australia, saying the SA Government would now go into a consultative phase with the community, in relation to future changes.
“Given concerns raised by clinicians about potential detrimental impacts on children, the (SA) Government will shortly release a discussion paper which will draw on input received and assessments of the impact of interstate legislation. We want to ensure we get our laws right.” Mr Wade said.
He noted that, although general immunisation coverage in South Australia is good, there are areas of concern. Much of the state “falls short” of the 95 per cent target for herd immunity, with coverage between 86 and 95 per cent, with pockets where rates are ‘even lower’.
Children are already required to be fully vaccinated for parents to be eligible to receive family assistance payments under the Federal No Jab, No Pay policy, with vaccinations are provided free through the National Immunisation Program.
Further information about vaccination schedules is available here.