In the interest of public safety, the Australian government has begun fining parents who don’t vaccinate their children this week. Anti-vaxxer parents will now be charged 28 Australian dollars ($20) twice a month for each child that has not been vaccinated.
According to a recent announcement from the country’s Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan, parents will begin losing a part of their family tax benefits starting July 1. And, over the course of the year, would be at risk of losing up to 737 Australian dollars ($547.36) per child. Previously, parents who hadn’t vaccinated their kids simply wouldn’t receive their end-of-the-year benefits payment. This new system is designed to serve as a more consistent reminder.
The latest fines come after Parliament discovered that the percentage of Australian children under the age of seven that were not being vaccinated due to a “conscientious objection” from their parents grew from 0.23 percent in December 1999 to 1.77 percent in December 2014. Tehan explained that these new measures were necessary in order to ensure the health and safety of children.
“Immunisation is the safest way to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Tehan said in a statement. “Parents who don’t immunise their children are putting their own kids at risk as well as the children of other people.”
Australia is hardly alone in its efforts to persuade reluctant parents to vaccinate their kids. Other governments have tried a variety of different methods to motivate anti-vaxxers, many of whom base their opposition to vaccinations on erroneous and debunked studies, to get their children the proper vaccinations. Oregon, for example, passed a law that banned unvaccinated children from attending school if their parents could not provide proof of vaccination.