Member for Baulkham Hills David Elliott today welcomed the announcement by Health Minister Jillian Skinner that unvaccinated children will face exclusion from child care facilities under new laws to be introduced by the NSW Government.
Mr Elliott said legislation has been introduced to deny children enrolment in child care facilities if parents or guardians cannot show proof of vaccination or provide an approved exemption.
“The NSW Government is serious about protecting children in Baulkham Hills which is why we have acted swiftly to ensure their health and safety at our child care facilities,” Mr Elliott said.
“These amendments will force parents and guardians of unvaccinated children to take action – either to vaccinate their child or to show why they should be exempt.
“The child care providers will no longer have to act as gatekeeper – they will be required by law to deny enrolment to children who cannot provide the required documentation.”
The bill would amend the Public Health Act 2010 to:
a) Require parents or guardians to provide evidence their child is fully vaccinated for age, or is on a recognised catch-up schedule, or has an exemption approved by a GP. Those seeking exemptions will be required to fill in forms used by the Commonwealth, which must be completed by a GP (or other approved provider) after counselling. Valid exemptions may include a medical contraindication to vaccination or religious grounds. Children who do not have proof of vaccination or an approved exemption will be denied enrolment.
b) Require directors of childcare facilities to obtain vaccination evidence or exemption prior to enrolment. NSW Health will work with Department of Education and Communities to ensure child care facilities are aware of the new requirements. Failure to comply will be an offence subject to a fine.
“There is nothing to fear from vaccination but there is much to fear if your child contracts a preventable infectious disease,” Mr Elliott said
“There is vaccination coverage of about 92 per cent across the state but some communities are lagging behind. I encourage all parents to make vaccination a priority for their families.”
Mr Elliott said NSW Government has a suite of measures already in place to lift the vaccination rate, which include:
- the ‘Save the Date to Vaccinate’ campaign, which includes television, radio, outdoor advertising, a new internet site and a mobile phone ‘app’ that includes an immunisation reminder tool. (The app is available at http://www.immunisation.health.nsw.gov.au/)
- the creation of a Childcare Enrolment Toolkit to assist child care facilities obtain vaccination information and help parents access local vaccination services.
- the appointment of Aboriginal Immunisation Liaison Officers in each of the state’s local health districts.
Mrs Skinner said the changes send a very clear message to parents that their children will need to be vaccinated to attend a child care facility in NSW or they’ll need to get an approved exemption.
“This significantly tightens the rules around child immunisation – it means those parents who have been reluctant to vaccinate will need to consult a GP about their decision and be aware of the health risks,” Mrs Skinner said.
The NSW Government tabled the legislation in NSW Parliament on 29 May. The new legislation will take effect from January 1, 2014.
For more information, go to: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/vaccination_enrolment.aspx