Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - GRANT McARTHUR

ANTI-VAX fam­i­lies will no longer be able to en­rol un­vac­ci­nated chil­dren in kinder­gartens and child­care cen­tres with­out proof of se­ri­ous med­i­cal con­di­tions un­der a strict tight­en­ing of Vic­to­ria’s “no­jab, no-play” laws.

Loop­holes al­low­ing fam­i­lies to en­rol un­vac­ci­nated chil­dren with the back­ing of sym­pa­thetic doc­tors will be closed af­ter an anti-vax GP net­work was re­vealed.

Leg­is­la­tion be­ing in­tro­duced to­day by the State Govern­ment will mean let­ters and doc­u­ments pro­duced by GPs or other im­mu­ni­sa­tion providers will no longer be con­sid­ered proof of im­mu­ni­sa­tion.

In mea­sures to be phased in next year, only of­fi­cial im­mu­ni­sa­tion his­tory state­ments from the Aus­tralian Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Regis­ter will be ac­cepted as ev­i­dence of a med­i­cal rea­son why a child is not im­mu­nised.

Par­ents and child­care cen­tres will also be au­dited to en­sure en­rol­ments are up to date with the im­mu­ni­sa­tion sched­ule, with those who miss vac­ci­na­tions re­quired to catch up.

The changes fol­low the ex­po­sure of a cell of anti-vax doc­tors who were al­legedly ex­ploit­ing gaps in vac­ci­na­tion laws.

Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessy is de­ter­mined to en­sure rogue prac­ti­tion­ers can­not make false state­ments about a child’s abil­ity to be im­mu­nised.

“We make no apolo­gies for crack­ing down on rogue doc­tors who don’t put the health of our com­mu­nity first,” Ms Hen- nessy said. “The sci­ence is crys­tal clear — vac­ci­na­tions are safe and save lives (and) peo­ple who tout mis­in­for­ma­tion about im­mu­ni­sa­tion are a men­ace and put the health and safety of chil­dren at risk.

“That’s why we want as many chil­dren as pos­si­ble im­mu­nised and pro­tected from life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses.”

Vic­to­ria achieved its high­est im­mu­ni­sa­tion rate last month, with al­most 95 per cent of fiveyear-olds cov­ered, but the mea­sures are hoped to in­crease vac­ci­na­tion rates.

Min­is­ter for Fam­i­lies and Chil­dren Jenny Mikakos said the early child­hood sec­tor would be con­sulted to de­ter­mine ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­vals for mak­ing vac­ci­na­tion checks.

Ms Mikakos said the changes would sim­plify en­rol­ments be­cause they would no longer have to con­sider a range of doc­u­ments.

“Our no-jab, no-play laws are here to stay,” she said.

“Im­mu­nis­ing your child not only pro­tects you and your fam­ily, but other chil­dren in the com­mu­nity.”

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