After cracking down on one way people avoid vaccinating their children, the federal government is ready to go after other loopholes.
From 2016 anyone who doesn’t vaccinate their kids because of ‘conscientious objections’ will no longer be eligible for childcare and welfare benefits.
However, a religious exemption is still available for Christian Scientists if a church official writes to the government to declare them a practising member of the religion.
Social services minister Scott Morrison has been at great pains to avoid naming the church, the only official religious exemption, since the announcement about vaccinations was made on Sunday.
‘I’m not in the business of promoting the exemptions other than medical that would enable people to avoid taking the responsibility for having their children immunised,’ he told reporters on Wednesday, adding the information was on his department’s website.
The growth in recent years of people refusing vaccinations had nearly all come from conscientious objectors, he said.
‘If I believe that there are other exemptions, whether it be a religious or another, which are being abused, I will shut it down,’ Mr Morrison said.
Meanwhile, federal Labor wants parents who won’t immunise their kids to be labelled ‘vaccine refusers’ rather than ‘conscientious objectors’.
‘There is nothing conscientious about parents irresponsibly denying their children, and other children, the protection vaccination brings,’ Labor’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said.
The former head of the nation’s peak medical research body says there is no magic wand to counter the anti-vaccination movement.
Warwick Anderson, who is stepping down as chief executive of the National Health and Research Council, says raising awareness about the benefits of vaccines was important but the message was obviously not getting across to some in the community.
‘Distressingly that seems to be most common in the rich and well-educated (areas),’ he told the National Press Club.
‘I can only put that down to a kind of sense of entitlement.’