The whooping cough adult vaccination scheme was established by the Bligh government in 2009. Photo: Craig Abraham
Unvaccinated children will not be stopped from entering Queensland child care centres after a parliamentary committee rejected a bill calling for their exclusion.
But in its report, the LNP dominated committee has not ruled out supporting a similar bill if it follows the NSW government example and includes provisions for medical and conscientious objections against immunisation.
The state Opposition introduced the Public Health Exclusion of Unvaccinated Children from Child Care Amendment Bill in May.
In presenting the Bill, shadow health minister Jo-Ann Miller referred to a national report which found 70,000 children under five years old were not fully immunised, with Noosa, Nambour, Surfers Paradise and Kuranda having some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, comparable to Uganda and Angola.
The move by Labor followed the “no jab, no play” push by the NSW Coalition government earlier this year.
But the Bill received strong resistance from the majority of the 64 respondents, who described the legislation as “unconstitutional”, “bullying” and “draconian”.
Most wrote of the health dangers they believed were associated with vaccinations and questioned the right of the government to force parents to immunise their children in order to receive a placement in a child care centre.
The more moderate submissions, while supporting immunisation, recommended better education campaigns to increase awareness of the dangers of not vaccinating.
The committee raised concerns of “potential unintended consequences”, including concentrations of unvaccinated children, an increased risk of immunising unwell children and the impact on parents who relied on child care to be able to work, but had conscientious objections to immunisation.
“In light of concerns about the current Bill, the committee recommends that the Legislative Assembly consider supporting any future Bill that would encourage parents to ensure that children are appropriately vaccinated on entry to child care,” the committee recommended in its report.
“Any such legislation should include provision for medical exemption and informed conscientious objection (philosophical religious or medical), with an emphasis on ensuring that parents are provided with education and information on immunisation.”