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PM gets tough on unvaccinated children

Malcolm Turnbull is confident his plan to ban unvaccinated children from childcare centres and preschools will be enforced Australia-wide.

The PM has written to state and territory leaders asking them to support a national policy and more consistent laws.

Parents needed to know if they are sending their children to a place where others haven’t been immunised, Turnbull said.

It follows his meeting with a mother whose one-month-old baby died from whooping cough, likely contracted from a childcare centre.

“This is not a theoretical exercise: this is life and death,” he said. “If a parent says ‘I’m not going to vaccinate my child’, they’re not simply putting their child at risk, they’re putting everybody else’s children at risk too.”

Under the proposal, any child who is not vaccinated – except those with a medical exemption – would not be allowed to attend childcare or preschool.

About 93 per cent of children are said to be vaccinated, but Turnbull wants to take that rate above 95 per cent.

“The level of public support for vaccination is so strong, I’m confident we will get a concerted national response,” he said. “We protect all Australian children by ensuring that kids are vaccinated.”

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has thrown his support behind the plan and applauded Turnbull for standing up to the anti-vaccination brigade. But he wants more to be done educating people on the issue.

“I think we need to start educating parents … as opposed to some of the crazier views they can read on the internet,” Shorten said.

Senior Labor MP Mark Butler said there had been some very damaging public commentary led by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and now the major parties had a responsibility to get the issue back on track.

Health minister Greg Hunt said government’s tough No Jab, No Pay policy of withholding family payments to parents of unvaccinated children is being supplemented by an “equally tough” policy of No Jab, No Play.

“We want to work with all of the states and I’m very confident that they’ll come on board,” he said. “Ultimately it’s about protecting kids against horrendous illnesses that are agonising and potentially in some cases tragic.”

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