Anti-vaccination advocates are offering to care for children for cash as the federal government’s “no jab, no pay” childcare rebate kicks in next year.
The Courier Mail reports a “black market” in childcare is starting to emerge after laws to stop parents of unimmunised children receiving the federal Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) payments passed the Senate this month.
The new laws begin on January 1, 2016 and also allow centres to refuse to accept children who are not fully immunised.
An estimated 10,000 families may miss out on the payments unless immunisations are up to date and the government expects to save $508.3 million over five years, but the move is also an attempt to address falling immunisation rates which have led to increasing outbreaks of preventable and potentially fatal diseases such as whooping cough and measles.
But The Courier Mail reports that individuals are offering to care for children from 2016 for cash at a rate “equivalent to whatever childcare fees are now with the rebate” and a Brisbane family daycare centre wants to be “a vaccine-free environment”, with the owner telling the paper that “it’s the unvaccinated kids that are the healthy ones”.
Earlier this month, Queensland health authorities issued a warning about an outbreak of whooping cough (Pertussis) in the Brisbane area, with a number of babies afflicted with the disease.
Metro South Health public health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen said the number of whooping cough cases in the Brisbane area has been relatively low for the past year or two, so the increase is particularly concerning.
Ten children under five in Brisbane were diagnosed with the disease in just six weeks, double the 2014 figure.
When a Brisbane mother Rebecca Harreman, posted a gut-wrenching video on Facebook of her four-month-old son struggling to breath with whooping cough, a few days before the Queensland health warning along with a call to vaccinate children, the post went viral.
More than 2.3 million people have watched the video in just two weeks.
But Harreman was then targeted by anti-vaccine supporters and repeated “nudity” complaints to Facebook over a photo of her holding her baby boy in her arms.
“Since some anti-vaxxers seem to feel they can share and say anything they want, even if it is unreliable, and I’m not allowed to have my say or share my own personal experience… well then I say bring it! No more turning a blind eye and not sharing opinions for fear it will upset someone else. It’s called freedom of speech. If they can say what they want, then so can I,” Harreman said in response on Facebook.