No jab, no pay, no play.
April 12, 2015 11:34 PM   Subscribe

The Australian Government has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children (on the basis of a 'conscientious objection') will no longer have access to key government benefits, including taxpayer funded child care benefits, child care rebates and family tax benefit A. The plan is backed by the Australian Medical Association, and has bipartisan support. More coverage: Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian. Sky News.

There will still be an exemption for parents who refuse to vaccinate for medical reasons or religious grounds or, at least, for one religion. While the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, won't reveal which religion, it's set out in a Ministerial Determination; The Church of Christ, Scientist.

The announcement - straight from the horse's mouth, the media release from the Minister for Social Services and the Prime Minister.

Background - the measure was proposed in the recent Productivity Commission report into child care (see pages 608 and 609, and recommendation 15.2 in Volume 2).

Data - Australian vaccination rates are over 90%, but the proportion of conscientious objectors has increased from 0.23% to 1.77% since 1999.

Commentary
- from The Guardian - Everyone is lining up to punish parents who are anti-vaccination. Isn't that worrying?

From The Conversation, slightly dated but still helpful - Forget ‘no jab, no pay’ schemes, there are better ways to boost vaccination, and more current - Immunisation, the media and the amplification of irrational anxiety.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts (59 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Damn straight.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:42 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Based on what I know of anti-vax in the US, the people who consciously refuse to get their kids immunized are not the poor who get government benefits. Is there going to be anything done to address wealthy people who don't vaccinate? I suspect for the poor it is more about a lack of access to health services or other issues. This will just add to their problems.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:43 PM on April 12, 2015 [23 favorites]


Based on what I know of anti-vax in the US, the people who consciously refuse to get their kids immunized are not the poor who get government benefits.

I know. I looked for evidence on the demographics of anti-vaxxers in Australia, but couldn't find anything solid. I have no reason to believe that they would differ from the US or the UK though.

However, the benefits in question are not restricted to low income earners. Many people who are solidly middle class would also be eligible for them. Here's the income test for the family tax benefit A, for example. You could earn just over $100K a year and still be eligible.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


The government benefit that concerns me in the U.S. is access to public schools. Plenty of relatively "wealthy" American anti-vax loons rely on that "benefit."
posted by spitbull at 11:50 PM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I suspect for the poor it is more about a lack of access to health services or other issues.

Not in Australia - our socialised healthcare system covers the major vaccinations.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:54 PM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:54 PM on April 12, 2015


Well done Oz.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:01 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is there going to be anything done to address wealthy people who don't vaccinate?

When it comes to vaccination, you want as many people inoculated as possible, and the law of numbers suggests that there are many, many more poor people than there are wealthy. Seems like a decent demographic to start with, in terms of enforcing good health policy.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:13 AM on April 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Scott Morrison has refused to reveal which ‘very small’ religious sect has been exempted from tough new vaccination policy.

It's the Christian Scientists, but for a long moment I'd hoped it was the Jedi.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:13 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This may have won Tony Abbott the coveted 'Australian skeptics' vote. I'm sure that extra 1% will save his government.

But seriously, this is a great idea, and I support it. In the interests of debate, though, I'll link the always-great Andrew P Street's column on the issue:

But there are a couple of things about this that suggest that threatening benefit cuts isn't a great way to achieve a pro-vaccination aim.

First up, that half of the un-or-underimmunised kids in Australia aren't that way because of conscientious objections to vaccination, but because of poverty or difficulty accessing services. Threatening to cut tax benefits for those people doesn't even address the issue, much less solve it.

Why should the public be eligible to benefit from for publicly-funded benefits?

Also, there's the discomfiting idea that public benefits should be linked to specific behavioural criteria.

See, at the risk of destroying your robust faith in the democratic process, it's worth remembering that folks with an agenda have sometimes attempted to create laws purely to pry open a legislative door they can later barge through.

For example: you might recall that back in 2013 there was a bit of a kerfuffle about gender-selective abortion in Australia.

It began when a Melbourne doctor claimed a woman had demanded it, although the actual story seemed to be that one Dr Mark Hobart refused to authorise an abortion because of his faith and then refused to refer the patient to another doctor as obliged under Victorian law (and for which he was subsequently investigated by the medical standards body).

But there was a push by outspokenly anti-abortion Senator John Madigan to prevent Medicare from funding gender-selective abortion. Maybe it was genuinely because he seriously thought it was an urgent danger to the nation, despite the only evidence being hearsay from an arguably biased source. Or perhaps he was a bit keen to set a precedent that the government could set rules for Medicare determining which abortions were OK, and which were not.

The fear at the time was that if the legislation passed it would have been possible to subsequently set new conditions, probably only requiring regulative changes rather than new legislation being passed. Like, say, a mandatory waiting period, or making terminations conditional on seeing an ultrasound of the fetus, or requiring the written consent of the father (the first two are law in several US states, the last is still before legislators in Ohio and Missouri).

And look: population-wide immunity to preventable disease is a great thing. Making people's benefits conditional on their behaviour isn't the way to achieve it.

posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:19 AM on April 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I suspect for the poor it is more about a lack of access to health services or other issues.

Not in Australia - our socialised healthcare system covers the major vaccinations.


I'm no expert on Australia so I'm not arguing with you here, but it's my experience that there can be other barriers, especially for rural people or minority groups. For instance, if a clinic is not located close enough.

Lower vaccine rates put wealthy areas at risk of disease

Affluent suburbs in Sydney's north, inner west and east have some of the lowest childhood immunisation rates in Australia, new research shows.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:32 AM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Parity.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 12:33 AM on April 13, 2015



I'm no expert on Australia so I'm not arguing with you here, but it's my experience that there can be other barriers, especially for rural people or minority groups. For instance, if a clinic is not located close enough.

My previous comment was misleadingly brief. Apologies. I agree that those kind of factors can be a problem. Especially with the Government recently claiming that indigenous remote communities should be closed, in part because it is allegedly too difficult to provide services there.

It remains to be seen whether the Government can craft legislation that takes them into account (and given their recent legislative performance I seriously doubt it), or will be willing to develop and implement support programs to ensure that everyone who wants to vaccinate their children is able to do so.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:37 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


First up, that half of the un-or-underimmunised kids in Australia aren't that way because of conscientious objections to vaccination, but because of poverty or difficulty accessing services. Threatening to cut tax benefits for those people doesn't even address the issue, much less solve it.
This is a very dishonest reading of the study that he cites. The study finds 58% of non-Vax is due to beliefs. Actually only 10% of people in the study cited logistical reasons as a problem, and this included things like being away on holiday when the jabs were meant to happen. 25% had not vaccinated yet due to child illness (and I have some concerns about the way that question was phrased may have included some anti-vaxx era). More people had failed to vaccinate their kids due to forgetfulness than poverty (assuming poverty was a reason in "other")

Unconcientious objection is definitely a real problem, and I don't doubt that in some communities it might be caused by poverty or logistics - but that is an intentional misreading to suggest the research cited says half of all failures to vaccinate were due to these sorts of causes.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:54 AM on April 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everyone is lining up to punish parents who are anti-vaccination.

Except that the punishment seems bound to hit the kids. If you're unlucky enough to have parents who won't have you vaccinated, now the government's going to give you a bit of a slap, too.
posted by Segundus at 1:20 AM on April 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm 100% pro-vax, but yes - this is going to end up hurting these kids even more.
posted by brokkr at 1:43 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is an appallingly bad idea. I am as pro-vax as you can be, but this is kind of an all or nothing thing. Either you have the right to decide whether your children get vaccines, or you don't. Wealth shouldn't enter into it. This is not fundamentally different than people who want to drug test people before they can receive the benefit, it's a way of holding the poor hostage while once again the wealthy get to do as they see fit. This is 19th century style moral leverage and it's really gross.
posted by supercrayon at 1:47 AM on April 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


There already is a requirement for your child to be immunized to qualify for FTB-A, CCB and CCR. What this announcement means is that the "eligible exemptions" to the immunization requirement are being tightened - right now, you just send in a form and continue to claim your benefits. It will be interesting to see how much redesign that form undergoes.

The announcement has a longer history to it. The Australian Government has slowly been incorporating and strengthening the requirement of immunisation in to FTB-A: it removed the Maternity Immunisation Allowance from 1 July 2012 and take the immunisation-or-exemption requirement onto the FTB-A supplement.

one religion

Given how easy it was to claim conscientious objector status before, I imagine a few more religions might apply now.

longer have access to key government benefits ... family tax benefit A.

It's only the FTB-A supplement that has the immunization eligibility requirement, not the entire payment (around $0.7k out of a $5k~$7k payment).

Based on what I know of anti-vax in the US, the people who consciously refuse to get their kids immunized are not the poor who get government benefits. Is there going to be anything done to address wealthy people who don't vaccinate?

Not the case in Australia. CCR has no means test and pays up to $7,500 per child per annum, and FTB-A and CCB are accessible until your family starts earning well into six figures.
posted by kithrater at 1:48 AM on April 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is super fucking dumb and will disproportionately hurt the poor. I'm all for encouraging vaccination, but the penalties should be means-tested, sliding-scale. Ripping away someone's social safety net is cruel, and particularly so if they're not educated enough to know why vaccination is a good idea.
posted by Quilford at 2:08 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The wife and I shamed our sister-in-law into getting her youngest vaccinated. She (the SIL) is very much of the black helicopter, "woo", tinfoil hat variety of anti-vaxxer (and, incidentally, on all sorts of government benefits). We said that if she didn't vaccinate her youngest, that we wouldn't be attending family events with our newborn. She reversed her stance pretty quickly. Let it be a lesson that public, familial shaming works wonders on anti-vaxxers.
posted by holybagel at 2:21 AM on April 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Shaming? With a too-young-to -vaccinate newborn, that sound like straight-up prudence.
posted by one weird trick at 2:49 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, yeah. We meant it too. But we also made it very clear that non-vaccinated children are NOT welcome around our latest guest star. YMMV, of course, but we found that vocal opposition to the bullshit worked well. And my nephew is now vaccinated, in spite of his mother's retarded views on life; she will probably still vote for Ron Paul and whine about Monsanto, and complain about The Joos, but her kid won't ever get whooping cough or diphtheria. I call it a win, and all it took was calling her out.

Progress, not perfection. :)
posted by holybagel at 3:09 AM on April 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


will disproportionately hurt the poor.

You know what else disproportionately hurts the poor? Massive disease outbreaks.

And since the "hurt" in question here is that you need to stop actively interfering with something that happens by default, I see no reason why it's harder or easier for a poor person to act than a rich one.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:19 AM on April 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Who ever thought the Abbott govt would do something that I agree with?

To address some of the criticisms:

The most thorough research we have suggests that most non-vaccinaters (ors?) in Australia do not skip vaccinations because of ideology but because of they forget or don't care enough to follow up. That is the evidentiary base for these policies and as Red Thoughts calls out, it is part of a broader policy shift aimed at influencing the bulk of non-vaccinating parents - the apathetic ones.

Unfortunately rabid anti-vaxxers suck up all the media attention and call outs, but they are actually a minority of a minority, here at least.

When non-Australians are talking about it hurting the poor, it is important to remember that Australia still - despite the best efforts of this govt - has an actual social safety net that, whilst not perfect, is fairly decent.
posted by smoke at 3:29 AM on April 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


This will be the one non-shit decision recalled when we look back on this0 otherwise unmitigated disaster of a Government.
posted by fFish at 3:42 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The most thorough research we have suggests that most non-vaccinaters (ors?) in Australia do not skip vaccinations because of ideology but because of they forget or don't care enough to follow up.

Oh. Can you link to some of this research? Because a lot of vaccinations here are conducted through school, and generally therefore drawn to parents' attention, I thought it would more be uneducated parents deliberately choosing to opt-out. On ABC News this morning a woman was interviewed who suggested that this would possibly just have the effect of making parents dig in.

When non-Australians are talking about it hurting the poor, it is important to remember that Australia still - despite the best efforts of this govt - has an actual social safety net that, whilst not perfect, is fairly decent.

But this threatens to take it away, doesn't it?
posted by Quilford at 3:57 AM on April 13, 2015


The most thorough research we have suggests that most non-vaccinaters (ors?) in Australia do not skip vaccinations because of ideology but because of they forget or don't care enough to follow up.

What does this policy change for the apathetic? They already lose their FTB-A supplement, CCB and CRR because their child isn't registered as being vaccinated and they already don't bother clearing the extremely low hurdle of the current conscientious objector form.

hurting the poor

While poor people are less able to deal with a ~$700 reduction in FTB-A than the rich, it's hardly "ripping away someone's social security net". CCB and CCR disproportionately benefit wealthier families.

but this threatens to take it away, doesn't it?

Only a small portion of it.
posted by kithrater at 4:00 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given how easy it was to claim conscientious objector status before, I imagine a few more religions might apply now.

I'd like to hear what you imagine those religions' motivations would be. Christian Scientists are the only ones I know of who refrain from medical treatment in general. Is there another, or one whose doctrine shuns vaccinations?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on April 13, 2015


those religions' motivations

Previously, a religious organisation just told its members to fill our the conscientious objector form to enjoy the combination of no vaccines and government family payments. Now, (and presuming the mechanical change is removing the conscientious objector clause in its entirety) your religious organisation needs to have its very own determination made by the relevant Minister to enjoy that combination.

No doubt some aspiring religious organisations will see the opportunities this presents in today's competitive marketplace.
posted by kithrater at 4:29 AM on April 13, 2015


This is one of those threads where it'd be really useful to know which commenters are actually Australian.

It's the paradox of all things Australian, Metafilter and otherwise; it stays entirely focused on Australia and barely gets a guernsey, or it gets taken over by foreigners but becomes massively more active in the process.
posted by kithrater at 4:41 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


kithrater, that seems to be true of all non-US-specific topics. (I'm Danish.)
posted by brokkr at 4:51 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh. Can you link to some of this research?

Sure, this is not the piece I was thinking of, but is quite interesting in highlighting the heterogeneous nature of non-vaccinators. It's ten years old, now, but still quite interesting. Though unvaccinated kids hover around 8%, only about 3% of Australian parents do not immunise their children because they object, dis-agree or are concerned about immunisation.

Here's some more recent research, albeit in press release form. "8% delay or avoid vaccines. (Of this 8%, 2% fully refuse vaccines for their children)." - I am talking about the 2% not the delayers. They are a not such a big deal, and some of those encompass legit medical reasons.

More data on the current coverage levels.

Another interesting piece about the different types of objectors and the approaches that health professionals could take in dealing with them.

This is a multi-dimensional issue, and - like anything from the Abbott govt - this is not a multi-dimensional approach, but we should be careful to acknowledge that this policy is taking place within a framework that is multi-dimensional and encompasses the broader health and medical policies of Australia - it is not a one shot, isolated thing.

But this threatens to take it away, doesn't it?

I disagree, quite vehemently, if you suppose that the entire edifice of Australia's once-world-leading and still quite-excellent-and-very-good-value welfare state rests on tax breaks. Indeed, I think tax breaks in general are one of the most inefficient, wasteful, and poorly constructed parts of our welfare state - and I most definitely include both FTA and FTB in that assessment.

I'm a firm believe in a high-taxing, high-welfare, big-benefit state; these are not lynchpins of such a vision or our current welfare system.
posted by smoke at 4:53 AM on April 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I mostly just want to see if this will work (though my personal preference is "no public schools without a medical exemption" -- I figure that schools could have mobile immunisation clinics over the first few weeks or something to catch the kids up). If it is successful, with luck other countries will pick it up.
posted by jeather at 4:55 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Especially with the Government recently claiming that indigenous remote communities should be closed, in part because it is allegedly too difficult to provide services there.

Unless I am mistaken, that is a decision made by the WA Government. Mr Rabbit might have an opinion on the issue, but he has no power over the decision I am aware of.

And, frankly, keeping communities in the remote back of nowhere, with a tiny transient population open makes no sense. That's why services were cut to Wittenoom, for example. WA is a big remote place. There's a knee-jerk "this is bad" to cutting the 100 settlements down, but it's not as terrible as is made out.
posted by Mezentian at 4:57 AM on April 13, 2015


hey already don't bother clearing the extremely low hurdle of the current conscientious objector form.

Indeed, I think tightening this up is critical. I also think moves like this play into a social desirability bias/dynamic - admitting to being an anti-vaxxer is becoming undesirable, socially speaking.

Of course, the challenge with social desirability bias is that it affects what people say more than what they do - for the apathetic or merely nervous, the difference may not be large enough to fight. For the vehement it will undoubtedly bed them down and initiate a spiral of silence.

That all said, we had a whooping cough outbreak at my daughters' daycare (well, three confirmed cases). And I am convinced my baby girl caught it - though she is vaccinated (not so severe, but as a worried parent in the middle of the night, I can tell you it sure sounds severe and very alarming).

The glowing, magma-like rage that filled me listening to her struggling to breathe those nights - and knowing it was totally unnecessary - was quite piquant. Makes a person wonder about liability of daycare centers to accept unvaccinated kids (if the kid was unvaccinated, that is).
posted by smoke at 4:58 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I figure that schools could have mobile immunisation clinics over the first few weeks or something to catch the kids up

I recall getting jabs for some stuff, at school in my day, before the internet and the Anti-Vaxx movement, so I can see this being very easy to roll out.

I assume we needed permission slips, but I can't recall.
posted by Mezentian at 4:58 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think they'd get more bang for their buck out of trying to ensure that some of the non-refusing populations with poor vaccination rates (IATSI people, refugees, residents of rural and remote communities) had more reliable access to care than chasing after the refusers.
And do you suppose closing those remote communities in WA -all of which are Aboriginal communities - is going to improve the vaccination rates of the people who live there, Mezentian? It's a nice thought that they'll all just move somewhere less remote, but that isn't going to happen. As to the role of the Federal government - WA is explicitly doing this in response to the Commonwealth decision to transfer responsibility for funding remote Indigenous communities to the states.
posted by gingerest at 5:05 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Disclaimer: I love vaccines and have no sympathy for refusers.)
posted by gingerest at 5:08 AM on April 13, 2015


I am very pro vaccination, but left feeling uncomfortable at this approach.
It is just so "Liberal party" to fight social problems with financial remedies.
I know more non-vaccinating parents than I would like, and all chose their course because a distrust of the "authority knows better than you" attitude that is on display for vaccines.
I happen to agree that authority does know better in this instance, but considering the vast range of other circumstances where it is clear the "authorities" are conflicted or pursuing self interest, I am not surprised that rejection of that stance spills over to vaccines.
So the upshot is you are trying to buy off people who have made a principled decision, which is icky.
And the way it was announced was so transparently attempting to buy votes/popularity, not genuinely addressing a problem. I just despair that we will ever have decent leadership in this country again.
posted by bystander at 5:10 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Especially with the Government recently claiming that indigenous remote communities should be closed, in part because it is allegedly too difficult to provide services there.

Unless I am mistaken, that is a decision made by the WA Government. Mr Rabbit might have an opinion on the issue, but he has no power over the decision I am aware of.

Kinda sorta maybe. In a deal going back decades, the Commonwealth paid for the municipal and essential services (MUNS) for remote Indigenous communities. Normally these are the kinds of services that the States pay for, but as a quirk of the buck-passing of Indigenous Australians between the States and the Commonwealth, the latter ended up paying for MUNS (under a variety of names) for a long time.

After many years of trying to convince the States to take back this responsibility (on the grounds that if you pay for these services for everyone else in your state/territory then you should pay for this part of it too), the Commonwealth announced that from 1 July 2015 it was not going to pay for MUNS anymore (the funding was been under threat for a while - it was last extended for only a year in the 2013-14 Budget).

State responses have varied - largely, they claim that the state of the MUNS infrastructure is so terrible from Commonwealth under investment that it would take many times the amount offered by the Commonwealth as a parting gift to make the necessary repairs for sustainable management.
posted by kithrater at 5:13 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Parents can not put their germ-infested kids into the herd, and save money with nannies or being stay at home parents.

If they want the government handouts for their little brats they can protect against disease, so the bacteria-sodden parents don't come into the workplace and make me sick.

I know more non-vaccinating parents than I would like, and all chose their course because a distrust of the "authority knows better than you" attitude that is on display for vaccines.

Science is on display, basically.

And the way it was announced was so transparently attempting to buy votes/popularity, not genuinely addressing a problem. I just despair that we will ever have decent leadership in this country again.

I saw it as a Cunning Plan to cut middle-class welfare, boost jobs for nannies, or entice mothers to stay at home like it's 1959.
posted by Mezentian at 5:15 AM on April 13, 2015


In my solidly middle class neighbourhood (South Yarra, 3141, an inner suburb of Melbourne), it was middle class smart-alec parents who made a noise about not immunising their kids.
posted by kandinski at 5:15 AM on April 13, 2015


, the Commonwealth announced that from 1 July 2015 it was not going to pay for MUNS anymore

Wait... something got through the 2014-154 budget?

That was, snark aside, interesting details that I had not seen before.
posted by Mezentian at 5:17 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just love how the Comment is free article linked in The Guardian in the OP put this in perspective:
Things went a bit topsy-turvy on Sunday. First we saw Tony Abbott explaining a public policy decision in terms of scientific evidence. If that wasn’t enough, we then heard Scott Morrison expressing concern for the welfare of children.

Never fear – there has been no change of heart on climate change or refugees.

posted by moody cow at 6:06 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Especially with the Government recently claiming that indigenous remote communities should be closed, in part because it is allegedly too difficult to provide services there.

And, frankly, keeping communities in the remote back of nowhere, with a tiny transient population open makes no sense.

Oh, rural indigenous Australians. You truly are the heart of the anti-vax beast. How brave of the Australian government to finally take you down a peg.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:38 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


As someone actually working in an Australian rural-remote Indigenous community, and worked in another rural-remote Indigenous community ... it is actually not too hard in the larger Indigenous centres to get your child immunised. Most people do, especially with a few reminders when the kids come in, and you develop a relationship quick smart with who's got what child needing to be immunised when you're in a very small community and it's not too much of a hassle to wander down and poke them and go 'oi, immunisations due, come on'. Or when you see them at the shop.

They are not the target audience. There is little in the way of child care in remote Indigenous communities. The child care rebate will not be affecting a small community of 100 people with a primary health care post staffed by one nurse and an Indigenous Health Worker. Some very small communities (~20 people) have travelling nurse clinics attend to do all the health checks, immunisations, and follow up recalls.

In fact, I daresay maintaining the Cold Chain without any breaches is more of an issue in remote communities than getting people to immunise their kids at all--or from getting any immunisation, once you have a conversation about the benefits of it, and when so many kids get sick.

This is not about rural-remote Indigenous Australians. This is about people who want to benefit from herd immunity without exposing their children while putting their very high risk vectors of children into vulnerable populations.

Now, if they really felt strongly about vaccinations, they would bring in the mother and close family free whooping cough vaccinations again -- because at $60/each (if you're lucky!), and you have two adults, probably another two who mind the kids, that suddenly becomes horribly expensive for poor people to do. I have had to have this conversation with people who /want/ to vaccinate themselves to protect their newborn, but suddenly are forced to realise that it's something they can't afford on their dole payment. Now that's a bloody tragedy.
posted by owlrigh at 6:56 AM on April 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Shit, so now I'm agreeing with Toned Abs, Scott Morrison and CiS all on the same day?

Bedtime for me.
posted by pompomtom at 7:08 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Welcome back CiS, by the way, I know we disagree on a few things but it's a better site with you here and you were missed when you weren't posting!)
posted by Drinky Die at 7:11 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Based on what I know of anti-vax in the US, the people who consciously refuse to get their kids immunized are not the poor who get government benefits.

Better-off Americans get lots of government benefits, like having the federal government pay 25-33% of their mortgage for them, but they're usually submerged or invisible benefits.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Previously, a religious organisation just told its members to fill our the conscientious objector form to enjoy the combination of no vaccines and government family payments.

OK, now I am wondering if "a religious organisation" has a name. Why would such an organization even get involved, unless being anti-vax was part of their credo?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on April 13, 2015


This is not fundamentally different than people who want to drug test people before they can receive the benefit

The difference is that drug use mostly affects the user, whereas anti-vaccine attitudes sicken and hurt many. That's why withholding benefits from drug users is bad policy, while withholding benefits from anti-vaxxers is good policy. It's a question of how much freedom is currently granted to hurt others, so the drugs analog is emotionally compelling but does not hold up on closer scrutiny.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kids need to be vaccinated. End of discussion.

I don't know how you make people smarter. Maybe make them take classes until they get it right. Withholding benefits seems problematic on several levels.

... it's a way of holding the poor hostage...

Exactly. And the people who are hurt the most are the kids.

Maybe they won't be going hungry at night, but I'm sure it will have some impact that the rich don't have a clue about.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:33 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Based on what I know of anti-vax in the US, the people who consciously refuse to get their kids immunized are not the poor who get government benefits.

This is true in Australia too. There were a few articles about how the richest areas were the ones with the most anti-vaxxers. In my anecdotal evidence, some of my hippie/artsy/Inner West/hipster crowd have anti-vax views.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:48 PM on April 13, 2015


Per Birmo you're looking at Northern NSW and the Sunshine Coast.

The whooping cough vaccine is free and administered in Queensland through the school system and yet figures from the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service showed that somewhere between a third and two thirds of kids weren't getting their jab – those figures varying from school to school.

Also interesting is:

After all, as Dr Dean Robertson pointed out on Monday, many parents who refuse to immunise their kids for measles and whooping cough do immunise them against tetanus. Why? Because they are happy to free ride on the herd immunity of the majority, something they can't do for tetanus.
posted by pompomtom at 6:26 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apparently the Church of Christ, Scientist, doesn't have a set position on vaccination. Via Reasonable Hank, who asked them directly:
Thank you for your email and inquiry about whether there is a Christian Science church policy on vaccination. The answer is that members of a Christian Science church are free to make their own healthcare decisions/choices, including vaccinations. There is no church policy regarding vaccinations.
So why do they have a religious exemption?

That post also outlines in some detail plans by various anti-vax nutters to pretend to be adherents of religions that have the benefit of an exemptions, in order avoid the obligation to vaccinate their kids while contining to receive government benefits.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:56 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


gods, sorry about all those typos.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:03 AM on April 14, 2015


I'd never heard of anti-vaxxers being ok with the tetanus jab before. If I met anyone who did that I'd give them a slap in the face. I understand why some people are anti-vax, even though they are wrong in so many ways. But being ok with one vaccination but not others is wrong with added arseholery.
posted by harriet vane at 4:10 AM on April 14, 2015


Ugh, a facebook friend (of the hippy/bogan town I grew up in... you can see where this is headed) posted up a delightful meme: "If autism today is due to better diagnosis... Where are all the nonverbal 30 year old autistics wearing helmets and diapers??"

So offensive. On so many levels. Her reaction when I said I found that kinda offensive, to be honest, was: "I don't care wat u think".

Sigh. I'm all for dialogue and the meeting of differing viewpoints - in principle. But I see shit like this - that I, as someone who's worked with profoundly autistic kids who would now be in their twenties and beyond - find really truly distasteful, ball-shrinkingly ignorant and most of all genuinely hurtful and discriminatory - and I just feel like life's too short for fuckheads on facebook you know? Even ones who are genuinely nice in many areas of their lives. I feel like this is a failing in me.
posted by smoke at 5:36 AM on April 14, 2015


So why do they have a religious exemption?

Hard to say if this is the result of a considered policy process. There will be documents, position papers, minutes of consultations held by public servants and/or consultants with stakeholders, experts, etc. Finance will have had a say. State governments. There will be standards, estimates of effects, costings, notes about likely interactions between this and other health and welfare programmes. An SES-level person with oversight.

If on the other hand it's a Ministerial thought bubble made into "policy" with some staffer spending 30 seconds googling before the press release went out because another staffer asked about religious objections, there will be no real reason, no plan, no process and if anything actually happens it will be a shambles. But OK press for a day.
posted by hawthorne at 5:40 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


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