In 2016 Australian launched a somewhat controversial “No Jab, No Pay” policy to increase the rate of vaccination among children and 13 months down the line it appears to be bearing fruit.
According to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, 200,000 more children have been vaccinated, pushing the average immunization rate of Australia 92.2 percent.
“That’s good news but there is more to do so we’re going to keep pushing hard,” Mr Hunt told TODAY, reported 9News. “It’s a tough policy because this is about public health and the safety of our beautiful kids.”
Under the policy, parents that don’t vaccinate their children will lose up to AUS $15,000 (US $11,500) in child benefits. The parents of about 142,793 children under the age of five have since lost these government subsidies.
The policy doesn’t apply to children who are excluded from vaccinations due to medical reasons, it only affects people who "conscientiously object" on non-medical grounds.
The increase might not be an exclusive consequence of the “No Jab, No Pay” policy. That was only one of many changes that came into force on January 1, 2016. The government expanded the vaccination registry making easier to know who was vaccinated; they also provided financial help for doctors to remind late parents, and made vaccines for children below five free of charge.
When interviewed by IFLScience last year, University of Sydney Public Health Researcher Dr Julie Leask discussed how this increase might not be all real and it is important to fully understand what the exact causes have been. She discussed all the changes and their potential impacts in an extensive blog post here.
For diseases like measles, scientists estimate that there should be a 100 percent vaccination coverage to at least guarantee a 95 percent herd immunity. This herd immunity is a form of indirect protection that makes the spread of infectious diseases incredibly difficult and protects vulnerable people who might have a compromised immune system, for example those going through chemotherapy, who cannot have vaccinations.