It just feels like world governments take advantage of our being distracted.
Australian vaccination law was quietly upgraded and beginning next year, the effects will be felt for families throughout the nation. As of 2018 unvaccinated kids are banned in NSW unless already enrolled.
What do the changes mean?
The Public Health Act will be amended to strengthen vaccination enrolment requirements in child care (also known as early childhood education and care). From 1 January 2018:
- children who are unvaccinated due to their parent’s conscientious objection will no longer be able to be enrolled in child care
- it will be an offence (with a penalty of 50 penalty units) for a principal to fail to comply with the child care vaccination enrolment requirements
- it will be an offence (with a penalty of 50 penalty units) for a person to forge or falsify a vaccination certificate
Importantly, the vast majority of children will be unaffected by the changes as over 93% of children in NSW are fully vaccinated at one and five years of age (see HealthStatsNSW). When last measured in December 2015, parental conscientious objection affected only around 1.3% of children aged 0-7 years in NSW. Children who cannot be fully vaccinated due to a medical condition or who are on a recognised catch-up schedule will still be able to be enrolled upon presentation of the appropriate form signed by a medical practitioner.
The new requirements do not change other existing provisions. A register of the age appropriate vaccination documentation still needs to be maintained for each child ( a register template is available at Strengthening vaccination requirements for child care) and in the event of specified vaccine preventable disease outbreak in a child care centre the public health officer can exclude children who are not vaccinated for that disease to protect them from infection and prevent them from passing diseases to others.
How does this differ from previous requirements?
Since 1 January 2014, NSW child care centres have been prevented under the Public Health Act 2010 from enrolling children unless approved documentation is provided that indicates that the child:
- is fully immunised for their age (AIR Immunisation History Statement ), or
- has a medical reason not to be vaccinated (Medicare Immunisation Medical Exemption Form ), or
- is on a recognised catch-up schedule (Medicare Immunisation History Form ), or
- has a parent who has an objection to vaccination (Interim Vaccination Objection Form for Enrolment in NSW Child Care Centres).
The Interim Vaccination Objection Form for Enrolment in NSW Child Care Centres will be deleted and will no longer be accepted for the purposes of enrolling children in child care from 1 January 2018. To support the integrity of these changes, offences will be created for principals of child care centres who fail to comply with these requirements, and for people who forge or falsify vaccination records. NSW Health will work closely with stakeholders and develop educational materials for parents and child care centres to support compliance.