8th March 2017
Some unvaccinated Australian children are being turned away for medical treatment because their immunisation is not up-to-date, a survey has found.
The Australian Child Health Poll of almost 2,000 parents found among 5 per cent of children who were not up-to-date with the vaccinations, one in six had been refused care — particularly those under the age of six years.
The survey found:
- One in three parents still hold concerns about vaccinations
- 74 per cent of parents believe they should be told how many children are not up-to-date with vaccines at schools or childcare centres
- Seven out of 10 parents say knowing the number of under-vaccinated children would influence their decision over child care, schools
- Parents are confused about whether to delay vaccines when a child has a minor illness
- One in 10 Australian parents believe that vaccines can cause autism, and a another 30 per cent are unsure
*Australian Child Health Poll
Anthea Rhodes from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital said the finding was a concern.
“It’s been a topic in the US for a long time and it’s a complex one about rights to refuse care to unvaccinated kids,” Dr Rhodes told ABC News Breakfast.
“At the Royal Children’s Hospital we are clear in our position that all children have equal rights to access health care, regardless of their vaccination status.
“It’s concerning for us to find that this practice is happening in Australia and it needs some more research now to look at who, how, why and when.”
The study found most Australian children — 95 per cent — were fully vaccinated, but one in three parents still held concerns.
One in 10 parents believed that vaccines could cause autism, and a further 30 per cent were unsure — despite medical research showing no causal link.
“Look, vaccinations work. They are safe. They have saved many, many lives in Australia and across the world and we are pleased to see in the study that the vast majority of Australian parents do support vaccination and keep their kids up-to-date,” Dr Rhodes said.
“But there is a small number out there who continue to have unfounded worries and concerns. They need to speak to their healthcare providers to keep them up-to-date.”
The survey also found 74 per cent of parents believed they should be informed about the number of children not fully vaccinated in their child’s school, kindergarten or childcare centre.
Seven out of 10 of those parents said that information would influence their decision to send their child there.
Dr Rhodes said there were also myths around delaying vaccinations in unwell children.
“For example, around half of parents felt a child on antibiotics who was otherwise well would need their vaccines delayed. That’s untrue,” she said.
‘I’ve never heard of any doctor refusing treatment’
The Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) Victorian president Lorraine Baker said she had never heard of any doctor refusing a child treatment.
“I’ve never heard, and I can say that with absolute confidence, of any doctor refusing treatment to an unvaccinated child where the child needed treatment immediately. You find work arounds for that,” Dr Baker said.
Dr Baker said she was unsure whether those parents surveyed were reporting an outright refusal of care or that it had been delayed.
“I consider situations where for instance a maternal and child health service may have had a baby or child visit and the nurse suspects that child has chicken pox or another infectious disease and knows there’s a mother with a newborn coming,” she said.
“What’s the advice? There’s a two-hour exclusion zone when the active virus is in your enclosed space, so I need to make sure no-one enters who isn’t immunised.
“Is it care at a given moment because it wasn’t an appropriate time to deliver care for that child exposed to a particular potential contact with another virus? I don’t know.”
The issue has been in the spotlight in recent days after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson described the Government’s ‘no jab, no pay’ policy as a “dictatorship” and said parents should do their own research into vaccinations.