Unvaccinated kids should be homeschooled

UNVACCINATED children should be homeschooled.

Their irresponsible parents, who arrogantly argue with science, forfeit their right to a mainstream education, be it public or private.

These "anti-vax" nutters are jeopardising the wellbeing - and indeed the lives - of kids whose parents do the right thing and comply with medical guidelines.

The guidelines don't exist for fun, or because the Federal Government is flippant with how it spends taxpayer dollars. Vaccinating children against illness is vital.

Aside from saving individual lives, it reduces healthcare costs and develops herd immunity so that diseases can be eradicated or their occurrence diminished. Look at smallpox. Gone. Tetanus, diphtheria and polio are now virtually non-existent in Australia.

Vaccinations against many preventable diseases are funded - meaning they are free - yet some fools still refuse to get their kids jabbed.

Queensland is particularly high in the idiot quota.

In some parts of the state, one in every 15 children is not immunised, according to an analysis of Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.

That's two kids in an average class size, and that's two too many.

In South Brisbane, the vaccination rate for five-year-olds is 93.4 per cent, on the Sunshine Coast 93.3, and on the Gold Coast 92.2.

Nurse Sonja Elia gives Mackenzie, 17 months old a vaccination. (Pic: Jason Edwards)
Nurse Sonja Elia gives Mackenzie, 17 months old a vaccination. (Pic: Jason Edwards)

If I had school-aged children, I know where I wouldn't be sending them.

Interestingly though, in a survey of more than 2000 parents about deterrents when choosing schools, only 28 per cent said a low vaccination rate would stop them selecting an otherwise "perfect" school.

Greater concerns were school fees and the distance from home, neither of which matters a jot if your child doesn't live to see adulthood.

People, this is serious.

A report released this year found 23 childhood deaths - in NSW alone - could have been prevented if parents had vaccinated their kids.

The review, by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and University of Sydney, found the majority of deaths from 2005-2014 were due to influenza, meningococcal disease and pneumococcal disease.

As we come into peak time for these and other illnesses, it's worth remembering that last year's flu season was one of the worst.

Already this month, a two-year-old Sydney girl has died of the flu.

Queensland, too, is doing a terrible job of protecting its most vulnerable.

In 2017, the state had the highest number of cases of mumps, rotavirus and chickenpox in five years. Influenza was the big whammy, though, with more than 56,000 Queenslanders diagnosed compared with only 5509 in 2013.

The Australian Medical Association says the national vaccination target of 95 per cent needs to be met to establish herd immunity and better protect people from death and disability.

Anti-vaxxers rally for the return of preventable deadly diseases.
Anti-vaxxers rally for the return of preventable deadly diseases.

The mumps, for example, can trigger meningitis and cause infertility and deafness.

Contrary to what paranoid and ill-informed "anti-vaxxers" would have us believe, doctors and politicians are not conspiring to hoodwink people.

The independent Australian Academy of Science is very clear on the merits of vaccination.

"In the short term, immunisation protects individuals from a specific infectious disease and its immediate complications," it says.

"But immunisation may also have long-term protective effects - from cancer and other chronic conditions. An important feature of immunisation is that it also benefits the entire community.

"When a significant proportion of individuals in a community have become immune to a specific disease through immunisation, people who are still susceptible to the disease are less likely to come into contact with someone who is carrying the causative infectious agent."

On the safety of vaccines, the science academy says: "Vaccines in current use in Australia provide benefits that greatly outweigh their risks. The great majority of reactions after vaccination are minor. Some adverse events coincide with vaccination but are not caused by the vaccine. Serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare."

Baby girl Alina being immunised in 1996.
Baby girl Alina being immunised in 1996.

Furthermore, vaccines are only approved after clinical trials to study their safety and effectiveness. Once introduced, "safety monitoring continues".

Despite the science, there remains a fringe group of unqualified objectors.

So I say hooray for the Federal Government's revised "No Jab, No Pay" program, which kicked off this month.

Parents who won't vaccinate their children (and do not have a medical exemption) will be docked money from their family tax benefit - a $28 fortnightly cut for each unvaccinated child. Previously, they lost their $737 end-of-year supplement, which works out to be roughly the same amount.

Hitting people in the hip pocket on a frequent basis might just work.

But the really good news is that "anti-vaxxers" claim to be setting up their own childcare services.

Following the introduction of laws allowing non-vaccinated children to be excluded, the Sunshine Coast-based Natural Immunity Community is organising "group childcare arrangements", according to spokeswoman Allona Lahn.

Great! Why stop there? Extend the right to exclude unvaccinated kids to primary and secondary education. No Jab, No School.

Kylie Lang is a Courier-Mail associate editor

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