Over 3,700 WA children could now be excluded as ‘no jab, no play’ comes into effect
Over 3,700 Western Australian children who are not fully vaccinated could find themselves unable to attend school or early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings from this week, after the announcement earlier this year, of “no jab, no play” legislation, amending the Public Health Act (2016) in the state.
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.
Local news source, Perth Now, cited an audit said to have been undertaken by the WA Health Department, which revealed 3703 children are not fully vaccinated, and therefore could be excluded from education and care.
The new regulations, which fall under the Public Health Act 2016 form part of a broader immunisation reform undertaken by the West Australian Government, designed to address the lower than national average rates of vaccination for children aged one, two and five years of age.
In December 2018, The Sector reported on the reforms, outlining that 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 1 January 2019.
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.
Children who are already enrolled in 2019, but not fully vaccinated, can continue to be enrolled for the rest of the year.
Speaking with the ABC, West Australian Minister for Child Protection Simone McGurk said parents might expect their children could pick up a cold or a stomach bug at childcare, but not an entirely preventable and possibly fatal disease which could be vaccinated against, adding that she wanted to “send the message that children should be vaccinated and the community would be better off if these diseases were prevented.”
She emphasised that the aim was not to exclude families, but to protect the community, and to remind parents of the importance of ensuring their child’s immunisation schedule was kept up to date.
Children with natural immunity to certain diseases, or who have health vulnerabilities, are medically excluded from the law, with children who are on an approved modified schedule also able to enrol. However, Ms McGurk said “The vast majority of children would be required to be immunised to attend education and care.”