New laws to help address low vax rates
A LOCAL vaccination support group has welcomed the 'no jab, no pay' legislation which passed through federal parliament this week.
The legislation, which was supported by the Coalition, Labor and the Greens, will see parents who refuse to vaccinate their children lose up to $15,000 a year in government payments.
The new laws removed the payment of some tax benefits to parents who don't vaccinate their children.
Alison Gaylard of the Northern Rivers Vaccination Support Network said the legislation should help address low vaccination rates on the Northern Rivers.
A NSW Health spokesman said vaccination rates above 90% were needed to create 'herd immunity' in communities to help prevent the spread of diseases.
Ms Gaylard lives at Mullumbimby, where vaccination rates are one of the lowest in NSW. She previously told a senate committee that vaccination rates were around 50%.
"I can only see it (the new legislation) as a good thing," she said.
"I'm just pleased that what is a localised problem here for us is being looked at a national level.
"We look forward to seeing improved vaccination rates as a result, bringing with it more education and awareness campaigns to assist low vaccination regions like ours."
Despite the financial losses some families will incur, Ms Gaylard said some parents will continue not to vaccinate their children.
"There is going to be a group of people that will not change their minds at all, that always been the case," she said.
"But people that are coming to that part of their life where they're having to address [the issue of] vaccinating their children, it's going to encourage them to realise that it's an important thing to do.
"Some people will do it because there is a financial incentive involved.
"When I first heard about it, I was quite amazed at how stringent the government was [in] taking action on it.
"But they're also going to be incorporating education and awareness campaigns; they're looking at incorporating a reminder system."
The new law comes into effect on January 1, 2016.