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Photo: Byron Shire, which has one of the highest rates of unvaccinated children in Australia.

Conscientious anti-vaxxers targeted in NSW

Parents who oppose vaccinations on conscientious grounds will no longer be allowed to enrol their children at NSW child care centres under legislation to be introduced by the state opposition.

Labor leader Luke Foley announced the policy on Sunday and said the legislation, set to be introduced this week, would plug the loophole which had allowed specialist anti-vaccination child care centres to be set up.

The changes won’t affect children who can’t be vaccinated because of a medical condition such as a specialised cancer treatment.

“We need to be encouraging vaccinations not discouraging them,” Foley said in a statement. “Vaccinations are the only way to protect against serious diseases like polio, mumps, whooping cough, meningococcal, diphtheria and tetanus.”

Foley said his plan would also cover family day care operations.

The announcement comes after an unvaccinated NSW girl was diagnosed with tetanus earlier this month.

It’s believed the seven-year-old picked up the disease through an open wound on her foot while playing in the garden of her northern NSW home.

The case prompted renewed debate in the north coast region, which has some of the lowest immunisation rates in Australia.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government had clamped down to make sure vaccinations were occurring.

The premier said she had not seen the details of Labor’s proposal but credited the current and former health ministers for strengthening provisions to ensure more children were vaccinated.

“We feel very strongly about the importance of vaccination and we will ensure that kids remain safe, families remain safe and continue to work hard to ensure NSW has the strongest vaccination rates in the country,” Berejiklian said.

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